“Malignant” begins in the 1990s at the Simion Research Hospital. Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) is recording a video tape for her records, when all of a sudden the situation inside the hospital becomes chaotic. Dr. Victor Fields, played by Emmy winner Christian Clemenson (Boston Legal), is attempting to get the situation under control; it is not working out so well for him, or the other members of staff. A mysterious patient, who Dr. Weaver refers to as ‘the cancer’ needs to be operated on immediately. Afterward, the film moves forward from the 90s to the present day.
When the film transitions to the present, it centers on Madison Mitchell portrayed by Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy). She lives with her verbally and physically abusive husband, Derek (Jake Abel). Madison returns from work to find Derek lounging on the bed watching television. She asks him if she could please lay down, that she needs some rest. Madison is pregnant, and she is concerned because she’s already suffered three miscarriages in the past two years. Instead of being understanding, her husband, the cretin, shoves her hard into the wall, which causes her head to bleed. Later that evening, after the lights begin to flicker, doors open up on their own, and the creepy image of something is reflected in glass, Derek learns what it is like to be on the receiving end of physical abuse. The only difference is, that unlike Madison, he is killed. His body resembles something the likes of which, would be hard to fathom, even from a horrific car accident. Madison will not be spared, but she’ll survive her would be attacker, and be taken to the hospital.
Arriving on the scene later that evening are Detectives’ Regina Moss (Michole Briana White), and Kekoa Shaw (George Young). They don’t have much to go on, other than thinking it was more than likely a home invasion. Shaw goes to see Madison at the hospital the next day, where he meets and takes a liking to her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson). Madison is in no mood to talk, so Sydney lets Shaw know what little she can.
The home invasion set up of the film, soon gives way to something more sinister. This will not be a surprise to viewers, based on the opening sequence, as well as the kind of attack that took place inside Madison’s house. Not long after she returns home from the hospital, she begins to have surrealistic visions of a killer garbed all in black, who sports long black hair, and is murdering people. For Madison, who goes into a state of paralysis when the visions overtake her mind and body, it is as if she is actually present where the murders are being committed.
This is not the first time Madison has encountered strange occurrences in her life. When she was a child (McKenna Grace), she had an imaginary friend named Gabriel who wanted her to do terrible things to the people who cared for her, and whom, it seemed, Madison genuinely loved. Madison and Sydney set out to do their own investigation apart from the detectives, who are skeptical of everything Madison tells them, especially about her visions. Their first stop is their mother Jeanne’s (Susanna Thompson) farm. While there, the three begin to piece together clues as to the mystery of not only what took place in the past, but who or what might be responsible for the murderous mayhem in the present. (As an aside: The voice of Gabriel was done by Ray Chase, and the physical performance was acted by Marina Mazepa).
“Malignant” was filmed on location in Seattle, Washington. There is a scene in the movie, where a tour guide is giving a group of people a walkthrough of underground Seattle. That tour was not created for the film; it is a real attraction, and open to the public. The movie was directed by James Wan (Aquaman). Furthermore, Wan co-wrote the screenplay along with Ingrid Bisu (Cafeaua de dimineata), and Akela Cooper (Luke Cage). Parts crime, horror, mystery, and thriller, the film has a runtime of 111 minutes. The movie premiered in France on September 1, 2021. Originally, the film was scheduled to be released on August 14, 2020. The movie’s release was delayed because of COVID. For those of you who are into graphic novels and may be wondering, in interviews, Wan has made clear that the movie is not based on the graphic novel “Malignant Man.”
The atmosphere in the film is well done and captures the right feel for what is being showcased on screen. Exposition, especially for the first hour, is limited, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing. The movie takes its time to reveal the truth of what is behind the murders and Gabriel’s presence in Madison’s life. The slower pace of information helped to keep me invested in the story, and aided in terms of building the tension. The movie does not concentrate solely on the horror aspects. There are some well executed action sequences that should also hold viewers’ attention. The music composed by Joseph Bishara (Insidious) matches up well with what is transpiring on screen. In addition, the cinematography by Michael Burgess (Logan) did an excellent job of capturing everything in the film, but most especially the action sequences.
The film has garnered mixed reviews; viewers either seemed to enjoy it and take it for what it is, or outright thought it was awful. I am in the former category. I thought the story moved at a good pace. As mentioned previously, I liked the fact that the information was not given all within the first half hour of the film. I thought the cast as a whole did a competent job; especially, and I am not taking away from the other cast members performances, but the physical acting of Marina Mazepa as Gabriel was excellent. Overall, I found “Malignant” entertaining with a good twist ending.