We’re not often left speechless. This author personally has got a thing to say about everything; from how to pronounce Ajax to why yellow is a superior color. But Malignant, well this bad boy has left us speechless, unable to process what the hell we just watched, who pitched this, and who had to do the disgusting prosthetics for it all? Also, how did the ever-talented Mckenna Grace get tied into this all? Questions after questions.
Haven’t watched it? Don’t worry, we got you.
Malignant is a horror movie where the lead starts having nightmares that show the real-time deaths of a killer’s victims. How can she see these visions? Well, she’s got a parasitic twin that is alive and well at the back of her head. Yeah, you read that right. For years he’d been dormitory, leaving Madison (Annabelle Wallis) unaware of what lay beneath her skull. That all takes a turn when her husband knocks her into a wall, cracking her head open and releasing the parasitic Gabriel to the world again.
Gabriel, who somehow has superhuman strength and knows how to fight like he’s in The Matrix or something, puts Madison in a suspended dream where she doesn’t realize that anything is going on. He uses her body to enact his revenge against the people who put him in his dormitory state. And no one has a clue what’s going on because the killer looks nothing like Madison (HE’S WALKING BACKWARDS AND FIGHTING THAT WAY TOO) but has this uncanny connection to her that can’t be explained by conventional means.
This makes the movie unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. And even after writing all of the above we’re not sure if we liked Malignant or were too creeped out by it. This is coming from someone with a high threshold for the weird. But there was something about the way that her skull cracked open to reveal Gabriel’s monstrous face that absolutely creeped us out and left us wondering who was responsible for this madness and what kind of stunt double they had to bring in for all those fighting scenes aka something we didn’t expect.
It wasn’t made any better by the fact Malignant had so many cheesy aspects to it. At one point, we wondered if we were watching a romantic comedy with the way that the sister and detective were eyeing each other after a meet-cute next to the bedside of a traumatized Madison. Then we weren’t sure if we were watching a cop drama that had connections to the Saw universe in some way, shape, or form thanks to the getup that Gabriel wore and how gruesome the deaths were. At one point we even thought it was some supernatural Insidious business after the visions and this session with a psychic.
The point being, this movie didn’t know what it wanted to be. That led it to a point where it was hard to connect or empathize with the characters or those who were taken down by Gabriel. They were all just victims. That leaves Malignant with a clear lack of a hero that isn’t saved by Madison’s miraculous discovery of power after her sister told her Gabriel had sucked the life force out of her children and killed them. It would’ve made more sense if the sister being in danger was the thing that tipped Madison over the edge and back in control.
Even at the end of this review, it’s still not clear where we stand on Malignant. It was infuriatingly over the top and cheesy. But it also was entertaining in a “What the actual fuck?” kind of way that you can’t look away from. Maybe time and reading other people’s reviews will help us figure it out. “Hopefully” being the keyword.
Malignant is now available in theaters and HBO Max.