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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 7, 2021



JAMES WAN is an Australian director of Malaysian descent who hit it big in Hollywood with his horror films that all become franchises: “Saw”, “The Conjuring” and “Insidious”. 

He also makes action blockbusters like “Aquaman” and “Fast and Furious 7”. He now returns to horror territory to scare the audience anew with “Malignant”, which sadly, didn’t do so well at the box office like his previous blockbusters. 

The movie starts with a prologue set in a hospital in 1993. A doctor thinks she can closely study a patient named Gabriel who has special powers that can control electricity, but he runs amuck and kills several people. 

Cut to Seattle in the present and we see a pregnant woman, Madison (Annabelle Wallis of “Annabelle”, the evil doll), returning home from work not feeling well. 

Her abusive husband, Derek (Jake Abel), beats her up and her head bleeds. We learn she’s a regular victim of domestic violence. 

She falls asleep and dreams that a stranger has gotten into their house and killed Derek. When she wakes up, Derek is really dead. 

Soon, she dreams about other people being killed, most of them doctors, and all her creepy visions later turn out to be all true. 

Two cops are assigned to the case, Kekoa Shaw (Glenn Young) and Regina Moss (Brianna White). The killer tells Madison that he is Gabriel and she remembers him as her imaginary friend from childhood.


The female cop thinks the killer is no one else but Madison herself. 

We learn that Madison was just adopted as a child. Gabriel calls her Emily May and it turns out it is her original name before she was adopted. As they say, the plot thickens. 

But that’s about as much as we will reveal here as anything else would be a spoiler that might ruin your enjoyment. 

The script has a very detailed explanation about the identity of the killer. As a clue, check out the meaning of the word “teratoma”. 

In local films and television, this phenomenon has already been explored in the movie “Darna at ang Babaeng Impakta” and in the TV series “Kara Mia”. 

The movie is said to be a tribute to the giallo Italian horror-thriller movies so popular in the 60s and 70s, like those made by Dario Argento. 

It’s also called the spaghetti thrillers, just like the Italian cowboy films then were called spaghetti westerns. They’re the forerunner of the American slasher film genre. 

The story of “Malignant” is co-written by James Wan and his wife, Ingrid Bisu, who obviously also likes to act as she also appears in the movie in a supporting role. You can say this movie is a labor of their love. 

The movie is shot with a dark tone and a dull style in brackish blues and grays. 

Gabriel, the grisly looking monster, wields a gold blade he got from an award given to one his doctor victims and he moves nimbly like a martial arts expert on steroids. 

He figures in a number of bloodbaths, specially inside a police station where he easily decimated the entire police force. 

The movie rambles from one scene of gory carnage to another. If you’re the type who relish the high body count, then you will enjoy the movie and you’ll have so much fun. 

Annabelle Wallis invests her role with emotional honest and she’s ably supported by Maddie Hasson as her adoptive sister Sydney who sticks with her through thick and thin. 

But unfortunately, the movie is not really scary but more violent and gory. There are no truly effective jump jolts, no slow build up of dread to ratchet up the tension and make the film really take off.

 Probably because the basic premise, which involves the twist and big reveal about the real identity of Gabriel, is not really that believable and actually looks absurd and silly.  

Also, you don't really sympathize with the human characters. Each time Gabriel brutally kills someone, we don't pity them. Our perverse reaction is even "buti nga sa inyo."