The Craziest Effect In Malignant Was Done Practically – With A Contortionist

"Malignant," the latest horror flick from James Wan, was released last week and it rightfully generated a great deal of conversation online, largely thanks to that totally bonkers ending. As it turns out, the big reveal at the end of the movie was largely done practically with little help from CGI. This is, to put it mildly, impressive.

Warning: major spoilers ahead for "Malignant." proceed with caution.

Gabriel Was Real

Gabriel, the half-absorbed twin of the movie's protagonist, Madison (Annabelle Wallis), makes one heck of an entrance in the movie's third act. As story writer and executive producer Ingrid Bisu recently explained to our own Jacob hall in an interview: "It was the head-smashing that makes [Gabriel] start to come out." But it was an incident later in the film that brings about the major reveal.

The slow reveal happens over the first two acts, but then Gabriel fully reveals himself at the police precinct. Those who have seen "Malignant" know that, between the holding cell and the cop slaughter, Gabriel's coming-out party is nuts. Bisu, in speaking with us, explained that much of this was done practically with the use of an impressive body contortionist by the name of Marina Mazepa:

"We found it in Marina Mazepa. She's absolutely incredible. She blew us away the first time we met her, because it just wouldn't have been possible without somebody that actually has this body capacity. There's not a lot of CGI when it comes to her movement, to Gabriel's movements. That's real. The fight scenes, the stabbings — all of that is real, and it's done backwards."

All of that wild fight choreography. All of that running around. All of that hardcore murder. That was a real person. As Darth Vader might say, "Impressive. Most impressive."

Planning the Big Reveal

A movie as wild as "Malignant" doesn't work at all if the big reveal doesn't work. As one might imagine, that takes a great deal of planning. Initially, it was about Bisu and Wan trying to figure out the best way to go about the reveal. It was difficult to iron out the details. Bisu went so far as to compare it to going to Mars or Venus:

"We really had to figure out how the final reveal was going to happen at the end, but we knew there had to be a trigger. That was our trigger. Then we started thinking, 'Okay, so when he's committing all these crimes, how does it work?' Can we do it backwards? We were literally in his office just going, 'Wait, how do you grab something like this? How do you hold the knife?' It was really difficult. It's like... I want to go to Mars. I want to go to Venus. I have no idea how I'm going to get there! We didn't know how is this going to work? Are we going to find a contortionist that actually can do that?"

In the end, love or hate the movie, it's downright amazing that Gabriel was done practically for the most part. It's a testament to these filmmakers and their commitment to straight-up going for it.

"Malignant" is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.