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Movie review: Malignant (2021) SPOILER ALERT

A scene from Malignant

This James Wan movie begins with a video recording of a doctor explaining the erratic behavior of her patient, Gabriel. It then cuts to that same doctor rushing down the hallway of a hospital in the most dramatic and cheesy fashion.  

The doctor tranquilizes Gabriel and straps him to a chair behind a semi-transparent curtain to leave the audience guessing. Behind the curtain, we see a silhouette of Gabriel, who appears to be a horrific creature.  

In the next scene, we meet Maddison, a pregnant woman in her thirties and her abusive partner who slams the back of her head against the wall.  

Before we can even begin to understand him and the extent of his brutality, a mysterious figure appears behind him and bashes his brain in. The mysterious figure injures Maddison, and her baby pays the price when it dies in the womb.  

Maddison breaks down crying and screaming, only the beginning of much more screaming to come. She begins to see visions of people getting murdered. Detectives discover the first victim she sees and it’s the doctor from the beginning.  

The detectives take the doctors’ records and discover that she worked at a hospital for children with deformities and Maddison was one of her patients.  

After Maddison sees the second victim’s murder, she rushes to the police station. It appears that her visions are true, and the body of another doctor is discovered. Maddison is of little to no suspicion for these murders. 

While at the police station, Maddison gets a phone call from an unknown caller. It’s Gabriel, and although Maddison is not sure how she knew it was him, she says his name.  

She visits her adopted mother’s house with her sister to get answers and learns she had an imaginary friend named Gabriel as a child, but she has no memory of conversations with him. 

Detectives find the murder weapon in Maddison’s house after her biological mother comes crashing through the ceiling. Gabriel had kidnapped her and tied her up in the attic. The detectives arrest Maddison and place her in a holding cell.  

While Maddison is in police custody, her sister visits the hospital and finds Maddison’s hospital records and VHS tapes. She learns that Gabriel was Maddison’s conjoined twin attached to her back. The doctor had performed surgery to remove Gabriel except for the parts attached to Maddison’s brain. He was using her body to murder the doctors that had treated them.  

In the holding cell, we see Maddison transition into Gabriel and go on a killing spree, murdering everyone inside the police station. This entire time Maddison’s body was being used backward by Gabriel to kill.  

It ends with Maddison gaining control over Gabriel and saves her adopted sister’s life after Gabriel tries to kill her and their biological mother.  

The story line is all over the place. Wan devotes little time and energy to explain his characters except for Maddison, who did not stop screaming throughout the movie. It had the feel of an indie movie with the production value of the highest costing movies in Hollywood.  

 I did not have high expectations going into this movie, and I am glad I didn’t, otherwise I would have been extremely disappointed. It had every cliché imaginable with creaky doors and strange noises in the dark. Malignant was a typical James Wan movie with the same jump scares and blood lust of his movies with endless sequels.  

Malignant was a typical horror movie with a plot twist thrown in, but some of its redeeming qualities were that it was very gory and had great cinematography and special effects. Even though I didn’t enjoy the writing, I think this would be a good movie to watch with friends in the spirit of Halloween.  


Levi Carlos may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Levi Carlos is a Senior at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is majoring in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Anthropology. He is a big fan of rock formations and climbing on top of them.   
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Movie review: Malignant (2021) SPOILER ALERT