Malignant centers on Allex who, at the film’s open, is dealing with quite a few different problems. He works at a job he hates and his wife just passed away. In order to deal with his suffering, he has turned to alcohol. Unfortunately, his alcohol addiction makes him the perfect target for a crazy experiment that gets violent fast…
It is possible that the idea for Malignant borrowed a couple of ideas from Stephen King’s short story “Quitters, Inc.” Like “Quitters, Inc.,” Allex is forced to participate in an experiment that should help him quit drinking. Allex has no interest in this experiment but he does not have a choice. I have never seen someone so determined to continue drinking alcohol. Each time he goes back to the bottle, I was forced to ask myself if I would have done the same thing. Drinking seems to be the only thing that makes him happy. He has no life goals. On top of this, he now has to deal with a mad scientist who is hell bent on “helping” him.
This mysterious scientist implants strange technology into Allex. This technology somehow enables the scientist to control him. Whenever Allex drinks, he blacks out, waking up a short time later to discover that he has killed someone. We originally think that Allex is only blacking out as a result of his drinking, but, as it turns out, the scientist does not follow the rules of his own experiment. He manipulates Allex, forcing him to kill.
Malignant is a very strong film that knows what it is supposed to be. I enjoyed every minute of it. The film brilliantly features Brad Dourif as the insane scientist, and I love indie films that take full advantage of cult horror actors. Dourif’s voice acting is the main driving point of the film. His delivery rings of. It was very easy to tell how the character was feeling during certain situations. His performance was genuinely terrifying at times. Gary Cairns as Allex, however, is a little harder to believe. In fact, his character never really breaks from its shell until the very end of the film. At the end, there is an almost instant switch in his performance. The special effects in Malignant are not overdone, never overshadowing the plot; there is just enough blood to keep you interested. Malignant does, however, feature various disturbing scenes that include electroconvulsive therapy and a lobotomy.
Ultimately, the film is about the continuous battle between the mad scientist and Allex. Allex is manipulated throughout the entire film; he wakes up to something terrible and maddening every turn. The final showdown between the two is extremely dramatic and full of tension, and is Dourif’s and Cairns’ greatest moment in the film.
While the title of this film makes you think that it could easily turn into another torture flick with unwatchable scenes, Malignant is tastefully crafted. It could even be classified as a thriller more than a horror film. No amount of praise for Dourif’s acting in Malignant would do it justice. Unfortunately, the film as a whole would not have been as successful without him. Cairns has not fully mastered conveying emotion in his characters. This makes the film’s casting a bit unbalanced. Although the story might seem too simple for some viewers, it still has what it takes to keep people interested.
Malignant is now available on DVD via MVD