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Malignant's James Wan explains the wildest twist ending of the year

·3 min read
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Malignant spoilers follow – and they're pretty major ones, too.

Having stepped away from the genre to work on Fast & Furious 7 and Aquaman, James Wan, the filmmaker behind Insidious, Saw and The Conjuring, finally returns to horror with his latest directorial outing Malignant.

Since releasing in UK and US cinemas on Friday, September 10, the film's twist ending has caused quite the stir online and now, Wan – who co-wrote the story with his wife Ingrid Bisu and Luke Cage's Akela Cooper – has explained where he got the inspiration for its wild reveal.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Related: American Horror Story season 10 is a supreme return to form

Starring The Haunting of Hill House's McKenna Grace, We Summon the Darkness actor Maddie Hasson and Peaky Blinders' Annabelle Wallis, Malignant opens in 1993, where a bunch of doctors are experimenting on an unseen subject named Gabriel at an ominous-looking psychiatric facility.

One night, Gabriel goes on a murderous rampage, which culminates in lead scientist Dr Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) warning her remaining colleagues that Gabriel is much more powerful than they realised, before ordering them to "cut out the cancer".

In the present day, the movie follows Madison (Wallis), a woman who starts suffering terrible visions of a monstrous, leather-clad figure murdering people (Dr Weaver included) all over Seattle, after her abusive husband slams her head against a wall.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

As the death toll rises, and Madison learns more about her past and potential association with the killer, it becomes clear she is sharing her skull with a "teratoma," a type of tumour that often contains muscle and bone. Turns out, in Malignant, Madison – or rather Emily's – teratoma is actually the partially-formed, parasitic twin brother that was attached to her as a youngster, and it was Weaver's team who "cut" him away all those years ago – leaving only the part that was attached to Madison's brain.

While he'd been relatively dormant throughout her childhood, despite a few of his evil thoughts creeping into hers, Gabriel's consciousness was reactivated when Madison was assaulted by her partner, and now possesses the ability to take over their shared body to off those who have wronged him.

"My wife, Ingrid, she does a lot of research into medical anomalies," Wan recalled in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, noting how Malignant clearly plays fast-and-loose with medical facts. "She goes, 'There are people that are afflicted by this thing, that were born like this.'

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Aquaman 2 director James Wan announces beginning of filming

"I just thought, 'Wow.' So obviously my horror movie-f---ed mind went immediately to the most messed-up story I could come up with. Her and I, we just started spit-balling ideas and [it] eventually snowballed into a concept.

"The whole time I was thinking, how do I take this seed of an idea and actually turn it into a film and what I can do with it that can possibly allow me to have fun with all kinds of practical effects that I haven't played with in a while? You know, the blood and guts and all the cool animatronic stuff. It stemmed from all kinds of aspirations, but that really was the start of that idea."

Malignant is in cinemas now.

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