When watching a horror movie, you can tell pretty quickly in the viewing experience what kind of horror film you’re in for. Either it’s going to be the type of horror movie that ruins your life and destroys your ability to sleep because every sound you hear while in bed isn’t the cat being a cat but a demonic monster rummaging through the kitchen for a weapon because for some reason it forgot to bring one. Then of course there is the type of horror movie you roll your eyes to, make fun of while you’re watching, and forget a day or two later because it left no scaring impact on your terror cells. Every once in a while there comes a horror movie that’s tough to peg. I made fun of aspects of this movie, so do I hate it? Buuuuut there are also elements that kind of gnawed on my soul and I now wonder if the veil between reality and monsters is now thinner, so do I like it?
Ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce you to James Wan’s latest movie, Malignant. A film that is currently living rent-free in my head but on a trial basis because I still haven’t figured out if it’s going to be evicted or given permanent residence.
As someone who spends a great deal of his time writing about things on the internet, finding the words to describe Malignant has proven to be a difficult task. On one hand, it’s batshit bonkers. I picture a world where the studio approached James Wan with ideas and notes on the film and he looked at them and was like “…nah” and just made the movie he wanted. Why he wanted to make this particular movie, no clue. I’m not going to judge him either. Why should he have to explain the weird shit that comes into his brain? Especially after he was seemingly able to tell that story beat for beat. Good on him! But also…why?! Why is this a thing that exists in the world? Why did I watch it?! Why did I secretly kind of enjoy it?! Did I actually secretly kind of enjoy it?! What has this movie done to me?!
I’ve come to terms with the fact that Malignant is a movie that exists within our universe that I have seen and have thought about numerous times in the days that have followed said viewing. That’s my review. Put it on a sizzle reel trailer. Credit the site. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better quote or tagline to sum up the experience of watching this film.
Yet we live in a world where a horror movie is only considered good if it has the promise of a sequel. There’s no such thing as a one-off horror movie, nope, everything has to be bastardized to the point where you forgot why you found the original film scary in the first place. There is little doubt in my mind that Malignant is on course for a sequel, the movie certainly leaves the door open for it, and just look at the mini horror universe Wan created out of The Conjuring. There will be other Malignant movies and you will watch them just like I will. Here’s the thing though, I don’t want those movies.
A sequel to Malignant is pretty predictable. It could go one of two ways, either the parasitic Siamese twin that lives in the back of Madison’s head finds a way out of the mental prison it currently resides in and starts killing again or the Siamese twin that lives in the back of Madison’s head not only breaks out of the mental prison but frees itself from Madison’s body, taking all that extra brain goodness that got stuffed into her skull with it, and takes over Madison’s sister’s body. Maybe there’s a version of this where Madison’s sister, Sydney, develops her own murderous parasitic Siamese twin because #genetics but that seems a bit farfetched.
Yawn, I’ve seen that movie before. Almost a week ago actually. It was called Malignant and it was bonkers. If you’re going to try and top what you did in the first movie then you’re going to have to throw out the rule book. You’re going to have to approach this uniquely. Don’t do what the majority of horror franchises do and give me a carbon copy that plays the hits. I may not know what to say about Malignant but I do know that it deserves better than that. No, if you’re going to do a sequel to Malignant then you have to do something special. Something out of bounds. You have to make a movie that isn’t a horror movie at all but… a legal procedural.
I’ll give you a moment or two to allow that to settle in because, yes, the only sequel I want to see from Malignant is centered on the legal battle that follows the events of the first film.
Let’s look at the facts, shall we? Gabriel, the parasitic Siamese twin that lives in the back of Madison’s head, goes on quite the violence spree filled with kidnappings, property destruction, and murders aplenty. In the climax of the film, Gabriel kills an entire police station and not just the chicks in the drunk tank. No, we’re talking a night shift full of police officers. Dead. These are people who were due pensions and then they ran up against this trophy-wielding parasite attached to the back of a woman’s head while her face hangs limply like a rubber mask and got dead. The amount of carnage in the closing minutes of this movie is insanity and we’re supposed to think that everything is hunky-dory because Madison was able to get mental control and vacuum suck the parasite back into her skull?! Get out of here!
There is no possible way, even in a universe as twisted as Malignant, that Madison is allowed to walk out that door. Enjoy those sister hugs because girl you might not ever see the sun again. What is about to follow is the most intriguing murder court case in the history of murder court cases. Just think of the true-crime podcasts that this incident would spawn. If you were hoping for another season of Serial this might be the case to get it going.
Yes, Madison was not in control of her body while all the murdering was happening, she was trapped in a mental prison created by her parasitic Siamese twin that is only able to communicate through radio waves or electricity for reasons I can’t understand. She saw it all go down even though she was technically powerless to stop it. But Gabriel was using her body for all the murder deaths. Yes, he seemed to break the bones in her arms, leg, and maybe neck while he took control but those fingerprints belong to Maddie. So, when she woke up the next morning with blood on her pillowcase and sore limbs, she was also a DNA test away from getting arrested.
Now I know what you’re saying, Gabriel wore gloves because it was a smart parasite and that may be true, but there’s no way Madison didn’t leave strands of hair all over the place. My wife has shorter hair than Madison and yet I find strands of her hair everywhere. I even find them at work a place she isn’t. Gabriel should have put that hair up in a skull cap, a hood’s not going to stop that mop from spreading DNA all over the place.
Furthermore, yes I just said “furthermore”, the fact is that the massacre at the police station was all on camera. There’s enough footage on that system to ensure someone’s getting arrested. Maybe even twice. That someone is Maddison because Gabriel got sucked back into her skull and someone has to be arrested for killing all the cops. And with arrests come trials.
Which is exactly what I want. I need to see that trail. I need to see legal teams try and attack this case. I want to see the arguments why Madison needs to go to jail for clearly harboring a murderous psycho. I want to see the arguments why Madison is the victim in all this. I want a team of scientists explaining the existence of Gabriel and why Madison is guilty. I want a counter team of scientists explaining the existence of Gabriel and why Madison had nothing to do with this. I want to be in the jury room while they deliberate. I want to see them come dangerously close to a hung jury. I want to see the riots that ensue. I want to see Madison not found guilty but not found innocent either yet she has to spend the rest of her life in a home dedicated to making sure nothing pops out of the back of her head. I want to see them try and put Gabriel on the stand with an FM radio instead of a microphone.
Put it into my veins!
This is the only acceptable sequel to Malignant that I’ll watch. There are no other options here. If you want to follow the craziness that is this movie then you have to flip the script. Give the people something they weren’t expecting. Give them the trial of the century. It’s not only what we deserve, it’s what this story deserves as well. Make it happen, captain!