If you’re considering a couple’s costume for Halloween this year, the stakes have never been higher. Maybe you met your partner during the pandemic and you’re only now figuring out how you vibe in public among your friends. Maybe you’re just a freak who lives for Halloween, and you’re making up for a lost year. It’s not even October yet, but it’s never too early to start planning. You want something chic, something cute, something timely, something not-cliché.
You should do a Malignant couple’s costume. Spoilers ahead.
James Wan’s new horror film, Malignant, premiered in theaters and on HBO Max last week, and while its vibes are frankly indescribable, the plot isn’t: After suffering a life-altering tragedy, a woman named Madison (Annabelle Wallis) begins having violent visions of gory murders as they happen in real time. But what she believes to be a run-of-the-mill metaphysical connection with a possibly supernatural serial killer turns out to be something so much weirder. The killer — who we’ve seen move with uncanny superhuman strength and speed, and who can communicate through electricity — is a sentient parasitic tumor in the back of Madison’s head named Gabriel, who locks her in a fugue state and uses her body to commit revenge on the hospital staff and biological mother who tried to remove “him” from Madison as a child.
In an action showcase toward the end of the film, Gabriel fully “awakens” and goes on a rampage, pushing his bloodied tumor face out of the back of Madison’s skull and cracking all her bones the other way round to scamper around Seattle with an unconscious Madison on his “back.” It’s a fun reveal leading to an emotional climax that takes place within their shared brain (as well as an amazing line reading of “He was feeding off of your fetuses to build himself back up!”). It’s enough to position Malignant as a future cult classic and Gabriel as a horror mascot to rival The Babadook. It’s also perfect inspiration for a fucked-up couple’s costume this Halloween.
Here’s how to get the look:
Step 1: Duct tape yourselves back to back.
I realize this makes the application of the remaining steps difficult, if not impossible. But you’re going to be walking around like this all night, and beauty isn’t easy.
Step 2: Find a huge, slick, black trench coat.
When Gabriel takes hold of Madison’s body, he’s wearing a big leather duster with a popped collar that covers her “front” up and generally makes him look like some sort of cool Matrix glitch. You’ll be putting both sets of arms through the same sleeves, so make sure it’s a big enough trench for the twos of ya.
Step 3: Position the wig just so.
In the final third of the film, we learn the reason for Gabriel’s stringy black hairdo (beyond the fact that this is a default horror choice): His face is on the back of Madison’s head, Professor Quirrell or Voldemort style, so his hairline is all fucked up. Find a couple of Ringu wigs and make them extra stringy and blood-caked before layering them on your heads so that the front is facing “Madison” and “Gabriel” is peering through the strands.
Step 4: For a perfect prop, walk around with a chair.
Sure, Gabriel’s weapon of choice is a surgical trophy snapped in half. But his strongest moment in the film doesn’t involve a kill. It’s when he yeets a chair clear across the cavernous Seattle Police Department to knock out Hot Cop Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and his partner, detective Regina Moss (Michole Briana White). For this prop, you don’t even need to bring a chair from home; just find one at the party and make it your own.
Step 5: Give it some zazz (special effects).
When Gabriel, still submerged in Madison’s skull, wishes to communicate, he channels electricity and makes the lights flicker. Get a trusted friend who’s in on the bit to stand by a light switch and flick it when you walk in and out of the room. Everyone will love it, and no one will be annoyed at all.
Bonus modification: Baby mode.
Say you’re a recent graduate of the couple’s-costume stage of life and have entered the family-group-costume stage. Just because you’re basing your look on some of the most horrific shit your poor Roku has ever seen doesn’t mean it can’t be fun for the whole crew. Here’s how to do it:
➽ Parent 1: Hot Cop (easy to do, Spirit Halloween, etc.)
➽ Parent 2: Young Madison/Emily May in a hospital gown
➽ Baby: Young Gabriel (strapped to back of Parent 2’s head*)
➽ Optional 2nd child: Madison’s sister, Sydney Lake, in her princess costume (why did she have to be introduced as a birthday party princess for hire? Weird character choice, but perfect child’s costume.)
And there you have it! Terrorizing the party as spookygirl Madison and her evil tumor-twin Gabriel will be absolute #couplegoals!
*We are not legally responsible for what happens if you do strap a baby to the back of your head.