Malignant (2021) | Discussion, Recommendations & Spoilers | Film Review
Malignant (2021) is an American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and written by James Wan, Ingrid Bisu and Akela Cooper. The film stars Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young and Michole Briana White. It was released in France on September 1, 2021 and in the United States on September 10, 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures.
In the beginning of the film, it is the early 1990's and we are introduced to Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie), who works in what seems to be a mental institution. She is called to a room for an emergency situation and soon discovers that many staff members have been attacked by whoever resides in the room. We discover that the person's name is Gabriel. As Gabriel is finally subdued, Dr. Weaver states that it is time to cut out the cancer, causing the viewer to wonder what that means.
In present time, we are introduced to Madison (Annabelle Wallis), a young pregnant woman who is returning home from her job and is obviously in pain. As Madison enters her home, we discover that she is married to a man named Derek (Jake Abel). Madison seems apprehensive about being around Derek and we soon discover why; Derek has been abusive in the past and Madison is afraid of him. They get into an argument and Derek almost punches Madison in her pregnant belly, causing her to rear back and hit her head on the wall. Derek panics and goes to get something for Madison's head and Madison locks the door behind him. Derek tries to get in, but cannot and Madison falls asleep on the bed.
While Madison is asleep, she has a dream that Derek is attacked by a shadowy figure and violently murdered. We do not see who attacks Derek, but the person is strong enough to break Derek's neck by hand.
After waking up, Madison goes downstairs to see where Derek is and finds someone crouching over Derek, seemingly waiting to attack her too. The person attacks Madison, causing her to hit her head a second time. She loses consciousness and wakes up the next morning in the hospital. When Madison wakes up, she sees that her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson) is in the room, watching over her. Sydney tells Madison that someone broke into her house and murdered Derek. She also tells Madison that unfortunately, she lost her baby when she was attacked. Madison is so distraught she seems to lose the will to communicate with anyone.
A couple days later, Detective Shaw (George Young) visits Madison to try to get information about the break-in and who Madison thinks could have attacked her and murdered Derek. Sydney tells Detective Shaw that unfortunately, Madison has not spoken in days and has experienced significant trauma.
Madison eventually goes to talk with Detective Shaw and his partner, Detective Moss (Michole Briana White). She tells them that she doesn't know who killed her husband and doesn't provide much help for their case. Around the same time, a mysterious woman who works as a tour guide is kidnapped from Seattle by the same person that attacked Madison and Derek.
As the film progresses, Madison has more dreams about her attacker and finds out his name is Gabriel. The rest of the film follows Madison as she discovers her link to Gabriel and his mysterious link to the mental institution at the beginning of the film.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:
Dead Silence (2007)
The Conjuring (2010)
Lights Out (2016)
Hell House LLC (2015)
* Discussion contains spoilers
Sometimes movies go off the rails. A lot of times this can be a good thing, but sometimes it can be a terrible, terrible thing and this is one of those times where it went as bad as it possibly could.
First of all, I don't know what was going on with the acting and what they were going for, but it was like watching a bunch of people who were acting in their first movie. The only character I ended up liking at all was the sister, Sydney. She was the most believable and made the most logical decisions in the film.
The jokes in the film fell flat, the decisions the characters made were not logical and the ending was ridiculous.
So what happened? Well, we find out the reason Madison had a link to Gabriel was that he was her parasitic twin when they were young and they were attached at the brain and back. Gabriel would try to control Madison and once Gabriel tried to get Madison to kill her unborn sister, the staff at the mental institution decided they needed to remove Gabriel from Madison's body. The "we need to cut out the cancer" comment from the beginning of the film was in reference to Gabriel's attachment to Madison.
During the surgery, the medical team was able to get most of Gabriel off of Madison, but could not remove all of Gabriel's brain without damaging Madison's brain, so they left it. Gabriel's brain remained dormant until Madison hit her head on the wall during her fight with Derek.
Gabriel woke up after that fight and started to control Madison's body, using her body to murder anyone who hurt Madison or had anything to do with the surgery to get rid of him. We find out he would use Madison's limbs by making her walk backwards (so he could see from the back of her head) and dislocating her shoulders to move around. It was really strange looking and unnatural when she was clackity clacking around, jumping from ceilings and being weirdly accurate with guns and knives. I mean, if Gabriel was dormant since he and Madison were like eight or nine years old, how was he good at using any kind of weapon?
So how did Madison get back control? Well, it was all kinds of magical thinking that did it. She had to want to get control of her own brain and not clackity clack around like some weird backwards marionette. It was that easy. Then she put ol' Gabriel in a jail cell in her brain. Good thing he still got to wear his trusty black trenchcoat.
And let's all talk about what's really on our minds...how is this not a rip off of Harry Potter? Gabriel was living on the back on her head like Voldemort and talking to her, being all evil and shit. Gabriel's weird flailing arms looked just like a mandrake baby. What is going on here?
When Madison hit her head and it didn't heal, I said to my husband, I bet she has something on the back of her head like Voldemort. Because you know, why wasn't it healing and why was she having dreams from someone else's perspective? Duh. Granted, Gabriel looks a lot grosser than Voldemort ever did and Voldemort just did some wacky death magic with his magical wand o' death, but it wasn't gory.
The only thing I really liked about this film was the dream sequences. I thought they did a good job at making the transitions and I liked the way they looked. But...that was basically it. I mean, I did watch the entire thing. On the same hand, I watched all of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) and that was terrible too, so I don't know if I'm desperate for horror films or if I've gone nuts.
Have you seen Malignant? It's a very polarizing film; some people hate it and some people love how weird it is. What do you think? Do you think you'll watch it if you haven't seen it? Let me know your thoughts below!