“Malignant” shows horror fans where the genre is heading – UNIVERSITY PRESS
Combining old gags with new stuff, this movie tries to put it all on the table.
With the spooky season fast approaching, theaters are already gearing up with the release of several new horror films. One of them is “Malignant,” which is currently airing in theaters and is also available to stream on HBO Max.
This gory / psychological horror film directed by James Wan follows Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis), a woman who has been plagued by visions and delusions with an evil voice telling her what to do. This voice, known as Gabriel, is considered his imaginary friend by his parents and doctors. With the help of the doctors, they control for the moment this demonic voice where it remains dormant in Madison’s mind. It wasn’t until a confrontation with Madison’s husband where he bangs his head against a wall that Gabriel is awakened.
With this, Madison is once again powerless in the face of visions, not only of Gabriel terrorizing her, but also people from her past. Those people would include Madison’s biological mother, the medics who treated her to appease Gabriel, and the police who are trying to get the situation under control.
Gabriel, who now takes on human form rather than just being a voice in these visions, only reveals himself to Madison when he abducts and brutally kills people. In these visions, Madison is transported to the scene of the murders, but she is unable to move or warn the victims. The only way she can help is to inform the police, who helped her when Gabriel was at home, of the details of what she saw.
About halfway through the film, it’s very reminiscent of the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Both deal with the hunt for a mad monster terrorizing a town that can only be contacted by one girl, shutting down the monster ineffectively multiple times, inexplicable mental powers, and excessive flashing lights. With that in mind, we can easily see the direction in which the horror genre is heading.
“Malignant” is the type of horror film that attempts to combine the old and the new. Similar to how “Stranger Things” is set in the 1980s, but brought closer to the present by the sci-fi genre. With the retro decor and futuristic plot, the show becomes something everyone can be interested in in our time.
“Malignant” plays with the gore that was popular with classic horror films such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Halloween” in the 1970s, combining with the paranormal style of horror films which increasingly attracted more attention in the 2010s, like “The Conjuration” and “Insidious”.
This new addition to the genre shows how horror filmmakers have evolved into combining different subgenres to create something new and exciting for their audiences. Because the new trend in the genre is psychological movies, I think we’ll see more movies with storylines that make us guess and never let us know what to expect.
Even though “Malignant” can be considered a psychological horror film since we follow Madison’s mental state through different periods of her life, the ending and plot were somewhat predictable. It was easy to partially guess what Gabriel was like in the first thirty minutes of the film. However, that doesn’t take away from the full reveal of Gabriel’s character and his relationship with Madison.
Horror is probably the most difficult genre for movie writers to come up with a completely original idea, something where fears of the jump aren’t predictable and we can’t guess the plot twists based on contextual clues. Often times, these writers have to move away from what’s trendy in the genre and what has been done in previous films to create something new. “Malignant” shows this apparent experimentation, which is successful in some areas more than others.
Ashton Kroeger is a contributing writer for University Press. For more information on this story or others, send an email [email protected] or send her a DM on Instagram @ ash.kroeger.