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Malignant Ending Theory: Gabriel Won | Screen Rant

Malignant's relatively happy ending might be hiding an awful truth, that Gabriel actually won. It's a cliche that many Hollywood movies opt to conclude with a happy ending, something intended to leave viewers upbeat. With horror though, a happy ending is far from guaranteed. By its very nature, horror movies are usually intended to scare, disturb, unsettle, and sometimes catch the viewer off-guard. A harsh, downbeat ending is a great way to cap off such a mission statement.

Still, endings in which the villain flat out wins, accomplishing their goals and vanquishing their foes in the process, are still fairly uncommon even within the horror realm. This is likely due to filmmakers and studios not wanting the audience to leave with such a bad taste in their mouths that it undoes any good will they might've had for the movie. For example, Get Out's dark original ending saw Chris arrested and incarcerated for murdering the wealthy, white Armitage family. This was ultimately changed to a more upbeat final scene.

Related: The Horror Movies That Inspired Malignant

For its part, director James Wan's Malignant appears to leave its audience with a relatively happy ending, at least when taken at face value. Madison has seemingly triumphed over Gabriel, forcing him into a mental cage, and saving her sister in the process. While there are still all the murders Gabriel committed that need explaining to authorities, Madison has a good amount of video evidence on her side. However, the final shot before the credits throws that happy ending into question. In fact, none of it might be real.

Malignant's wild third act reveals that instead of being another person, Gabriel was actually Madison's parasitic twin, and was seemingly malevolent from birth. Madison and Gabriel were the product of their teenage mother being raped, and it's implied their father might've been a demon, or even Satan himself. That would explain Gabriel's evil and supernatural powers. Gabriel had been dormant for decades, up until a head injury to Madison awakened him. He went on a killing spree using their shared body, and while killing, put Madison in a kind of dream state.

Near the end of Malignant, Gabriel is confronting their hospitalized mother, and also targets Madison's adopted sister Sydney. It appears he kills Sydney, but then it's revealed that during the battle, Madison had taken control, locking up Gabriel inside some sort of prison inside their mind. As mentioned previously, it appears on the surface to be a happy ending, albeit one which occurs after lots of other people have already been killed by Gabriel, including a station full of police officers. Yet, the final shot of Malignant curiously focuses on a light on the other side of the hospital room. This could be innocuous, were it not for Gabriel's displayed power to manipulate electricity. With that in mind, Madison's victory and tearful hug with her sister might not be exactly what it first appears.

While Madison overcoming Gabriel after a childhood of torment is a feel-good moment, it also isn't quite fully believable, even considering all the other crazy things in James Wan's return to horror. Gabriel has been shown to be extremely strong, not just physically, but mentally as well. Malignant makes clear that the reason Madison had "visions" of Gabriel's kills was that he was forcing her consciousness down into a dream state while he was committing those murders. While they're happening, Madison thinks she's just going about her business, but actually, her body is being used as a puppet by Gabriel.

Related: Malignant Cast & Character Guide

One thing the ending of Malignant just kind of glosses over is exactly how Madison is able to overcome Gabriel and regain control of her body long enough to lock him away in the mental prison. It's almost implied to be the power of love since it happens while Gabriel is approaching Sydney with murderous intent. That kind of sentimentality doesn't fit the dark tone of the rest of Malignant though, which seems designed to be a cult movie. Sadly, it's far more likely that it was actually Gabriel who took control, forcing Madison's consciousness into another dream state, this time where she wins the fight and saves her family. If her perception is of happiness, she'll make no effort to escape her new cage, and Gabriel can retain full and complete control of their shared body. That means at the very least that Sydney is likely dead, as is Gabriel and Madison's mother Serena May, if not the entire staff of the hospital. It's a significantly more bleak ending than the one initially presented to viewers.

When taken at face value, Malignant can actually function as Madison's dark superhero origin story, a sequel based on the ending as is could see Madison put her new powers to positive use, only to eventually battle with a reawakened Gabriel once again. Their demonic father could also reemerge into the picture. If Gabriel truly won though, that drastically alters the dynamic of a potential Malignant sequel. The story would presumably begin after the hospital massacre, with Gabriel still on a path of rage. Madison can also awaken though, and it would be likely that cracks would eventually show in her mental prison.

Maintaining that cage for Madison, while also using his powers to kill in real life, could end up taking too much out of Gabriel, with his control on the dream state slipping, perhaps causing things akin to glitches in The Matrix. That would eventually lead to Madison reemerging, and perhaps temporarily regaining control of her body, which would make for an interesting story for Malignant 2. If Gabriel's been killing all this time though, it's likely Madison is public enemy number one. Would she try to turn herself over to the police, or would she remember the police station slaughter, and try to kill herself? If she shot herself, would Gabriel spit out the bullet, Hulk-style? As dark as the scenario is, Gabriel ending Malignant as the victor leaves a lot of cool options open for the story of Malignant 2.

More: Malignant: Every Clue To The Gabriel Twist You Missed

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