the wretched

★★★★

DIRECTOR: brett pierce and drew t. pierce (deadheads)
STARRING: john paul-howard, piper curda, jamison jones and azie tesfai

 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

A defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parents' imminent divorce, faces off with a thousand year-old witch, who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door.

The Wretched was written and directed by Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce and stars John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, and Jamison Jones and is a surprisingly effective horror film that largely successfully incorporates elements of coming-of-age stories, relationship drama and, interestingly, the conspiracy thriller into a snappy and engaging scary movie.

 

We follow Ben, shuttled off to spend the summer with his estranged Dad, helping with the Marina that he runs. There he works with Mallory, and they quickly hit it off, despite Ben being unfortunately awkward at times. At work, Ben is introduced to Mallory’s little sister Lily who proclaims him as “not that cute” and he gets to know them more over time.

 

It’s at his Dad’s neighbour’s place that he starts to notice some strange occurrences. Weird animal sounds in their yard at night lead to him poke around their house outside with a torch. The neighbour’s young son breaks into Ben’s dad’s place to hide from his own mum, who he said had been acting strangely.

 

The boy’s father vehemently denies to Ben that he has a son, when Ben later asks after him. How no one listens to Ben’s evidence that the neighbours have been overcome by some evil he researched on the internet. That people deny that children have gone missing and that something in the neighbour’s house is responsible. The determination by responsible adults that Ben go back home to his mother, and sent to receive psychological help. Why does no one remember Lily?

 

This all coalesces to a nice twist that is also smartly subsumed by the action of horror as the film heads into its third act. The Wretched isn’t in the same league as heavyweights of the genre like Hereditary or The Lodge but it is a compelling and effectively creepy movie; just one that won’t keep you awake at night - which sometimes with horror films, may just be a good thing.

The Wretched is a compelling and effectively creepy movie; just one that won’t keep you awake at night - which sometimes with horror films, may just be a good thing.

★★★★

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