With ‘Malignant,’ James Wan (‘Saw’) once more proves how unconventional his vision is as a horror filmmaker. The movie tells the story of Madison (Annabelle Wallis), a woman who starts having visions of gruesome murders and realizes that she is seeing people die in real-time. Moreover, the killer is revealed to be tied to Madison’s childhood, much of which she doesn’t remember. When the police start to suspect her for the murders, her younger sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson), becomes her only source of hope. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Malignant.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Malignant Plot Synopsis
The story begins at the Simion Research Hospital in Seattle, Washington, in 1999. Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) and her colleagues, Dr. Victor Fields (Christian Clemenson) and Dr. Gregory (Amir AboulEla), try to treat a mysterious young patient named Gabriel, who is inhumanly strong and can control electrical devices with his mind. On a particularly violent night, Gabriel kills several members of the hospital staff and injures others. Dr. Weaver has hoped that she would be able to help Gabriel, but now, she realizes how catastrophically wrong she was. She orders her subordinates to strap Gabriel down on a bed so she can “cut out the cancer.”
In the present day, Madison is several months pregnant. During her conversation with her abusive husband, Derek (Jake Abel), it is revealed that she was pregnant a few times before, but all of them ended in miscarriages. Derek suddenly pushes her so hard against the wall that she starts bleeding from the back of her head, and there is a large dent in the wall. When Derek leaves the room, Madison shuts the door, locking him out of the bedroom.
That night, Derek wakes up after hearing some noises. He sees a figure wrapped in shadows watching TV in the dark. But when he turns on the light, there is no one there. Suddenly, the figure appears behind him and breaks his neck. Sensing something has happened, Madison comes down from the bedroom. When she sees what has happened to Derek, she tries to escape. But the figure grabs her and throws her across the floor.
The next time she regains consciousness, she is in the hospital, and Sydney is there with her. From her sister, Madison learns that she has lost the child. Meanwhile, Detectives Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and Regina Moss (Michole Briana White) are assigned to the case. They initially think that Derek and Madison are victims of a violent break-in. But when they learn about Derek’s abusive behavior, their attention turns toward Madison.
By the time Sydney comes for a visit, Madison has bolted almost all points of entry to her house. The siblings speak about the miscarriages. It is revealed that they are not biological sisters. Sydney’s parents adopted Madison when she was 8 years old. Sydney didn’t know about this and grew up believing that they were related by blood. Madison doesn’t have any recollection of what was her life before the adoption. To her, it’s almost like a blank canvas.
The shadowy creature is actually Gabriel. He kidnaps a guide of Seattle’s underground city and keeps her bound in an attic. One by one, Gabriel kills Dr. Weaver, Dr. Fields, and Dr. Gregory. During each of the murders, Madison has a vision of herself present at the location, witnessing the violent death as it happens. She and Sydney reach out to the police with this information. Initially, both Kekoa and Regina are skeptical. The siblings later visit their mother, Jeanne (Susanna Thompson), who reveals that Madison mentioned Gabriel several times when she was younger.
From Dr. Weaver’s files, the police deduce that Madison was a patient at the Simion Research Hospital under her original name, Emily May. Meanwhile, Sydney goes to the facility and brings back several files and videotapes that were left there. As she and Jeanne watch the videotapes together, they finally start to understand what is really happening with Madison.
Malignant Ending: Who Is Gabriel? What Happens to Him?
Gabriel is Madison’s parasitic twin. Their mother, Serena, became pregnant with them after being raped at age 15 and decided to carry it to term. After her children’s birth, she decided to leave them at Simion Research. One of the videos that Jeanne and Sydney watch together shows Serena calling Gabriel “an abomination.” Later, in another video, a much younger Madison calls Gabriel “the Devil.”
As Dr. Weaver states in one of the videos, the parasitic twins result from two embryos developing in the womb together and not separating. One twin ultimately becomes dominant, while the other is left underdeveloped. This is different from conjoined twins, as the parasitic twin is dependent on the body of the dominant one. Like a parasite, Gabriel draws sustenance from Madison’s body.
Gabriel has always been psychotic. After his killing spree at the facility, Dr. Weaver decided to separate him from Emily/Madison. That’s what she meant when she mentioned cutting out the cancer. Although they surgically removed Gabriel’s underdeveloped body, they couldn’t wipe all traces of him from Emily/Madison’s mind as they shared the brain. After removing as much as possible, they closed her skull. In her early days with her adoptive family, Madison remembered Gabriel. He influenced her behavior and sometimes even took control of her body. One time, while being controlled by Gabriel, Madison nearly killed Jeanne while she was pregnant with Sydney.
But after Sydney’s birth, things started to change for Madison. Her sister’s presence in her life made her forget about Gabriel. And he would have remained forgotten if Derek hadn’t pushed Madison against the wall, awakening him. During that intermediate slumbering period, Gabriel survived by still acting as a parasite. He fed off the fetuses inside Madison’s womb, killing them and rebuilding himself. In the climactic scene, Madison regains control of her mind and traps Gabriel inside a mental prison. She knows that the cage will not hold Gabriel forever and decides to prepare herself for if and when he gets out.
What Causes Madison’s Visions? Are Sydney and Serena Dead?
Every time Gabriel goes on the hunt, his distorted face comes out from the back of Madison’s skull. He takes over Madison’s body, making her a prisoner in her own mind. So, what Madison sees as visions is actually what’s happening in the outside world. Gabriel knows that Madison was able to forget him because of Sydney. So, after his return, she becomes one of his targets.
His first victim, the guide of Seattle’s underground city, turns out to be Serena. Gabriel keeps her as a captive in the attic of Madison’s home. Although the climactic scene shows Gabriel killing Madison and Serena, those deaths are part of his vision as Madison takes control of her own mind. Both Serena and Sydney are revealed to be alive in the final scene of the film. Kekoa also likely survives as his injury isn’t fatal.
Do Madison and Gabriel Have Powers?
Yes, it seems that Madison was born with special abilities. And as Gabriel can control her mind, he has full access to them. He is much stronger than any ordinary human and can manipulate electricity and electrical devices. Initially, he didn’t have the ability to speak but later started broadcasting his thoughts through audio equipment. This is how he can communicate with the detectives in the interrogation room while Madison is there with them. When Madison ultimately regains control of her body, she is able to access her powers.
Read More: Is Malignant a True Story?