the wretched | brett pierce | drew t. pierce | john-paul howard | piper curda | jamison jones | monster | creature | witch | ritual | united states | azie tesfai | zarah mahler | kevin bigley | gabriela quezada bloomgarden | richard ellis | blane crockarell
Film: The Wretched
Director: Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce
Writer: Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda and Jamison Jones
This was a movie that I saw a bunch of people on podcasts covering and talking about, so I asked Jaime if she wanted to watch this with me. Since she agreed, this is my 2020 release for a podcast so I can keep up with my new horror film watching. Other than that, I came in blind. The synopsis is a defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parent’s imminent divorce, believes that something is wrong with his neighbors that might be based in the supernatural.
Now I did doctor the synopsis as I think it spoils things and one thing that I really enjoy about this movie is that, we see things going on, but it is also from the point of view of as the synopsis states, a boy that is a bit troubled.
We start this all though 35 years ago. Megan (Sydne Mikelle) is going to babysit for a family and it is raining outside. She knocks at the door and no one answers. She goes around to the side door where she calls her mother to let her know where she is and what is doing. There are some flowers that are dead and she finds a picture of the family. The husband’s face is crossed out. She hears something in the basement and goes to check it out. This will be the last thing she does.
The movie then shifts to someone’s face in water and they’re moving around back and forth. It then tells us that we’re 5 days in the past. Ben (John-Paul Howard) is on a bus to visit his father. His arm is in a cast and an old woman comments on him being an artist. He is dropped off and he goes into the gas station where the proprietor is out fishing. There’s an honor system and Ben at first ignores it, but he’s growled at by the dog.
Ben then meets up with his father. They have dinner while Ben plays Connect-Four. Liam (Jamison Jones) and Ben have tension, but his dad is trying to work through it. When he asks Ben if they want to talk about why his arm in the cast, they don’t get anywhere.
To fill you in, Ben’s parents are going through a divorce. Ben is a bit more upset that his father seems to already have moved on as he’s seeing Sara (Azie Tesfai), a young woman who works at the marina that Liam seems to be the harbor master at. Ben is going to work there for the summer where he meets Mallory (Piper Curda), a quirky young woman. He also meets a group of rich kids where one of the young women seems to be making eyes at him.
Liam lives next to a young family of Abbie (Zarah Mahler), her husband Ty (Kevin Bigley) and their two children. The elder boy is Dillon (Blane Crockarell). Him and his mother go into the woods to explore where he finds an odd mark on a tree. This is the same mark that was on the door 35 years ago. It is an upside triangle, almost like the anarchy A, but it is probably representing a deer skull. Dillon then hears something and sees a creepy hand coming out of a tree. His mother gets him and they leave. On their way home though, they hit a deer and since Abbie’s father was a hunter, she decides to bring it home.
Things get weird that night when Ben hears something on his roof. He goes outside to check on it and it moves over to his neighbor’s. He thinks it goes under the porch, but he notices something perching on the railing. That’s when Ty asks what he’s doing. Ben makes up an excuse and the two go to bed. The following day, Abbie gets attacked by something and goes off into the woods. Ben tries to point this out, but he makes a mess of things by not coming to a dinner that he suggested and put on by Sara. We also learn about something he did that caused him to be here for the summer and he isn’t the most reliable.
Now that recap ran a bit long, but there was a lot I felt I needed to establish before moving into what I thought about the things that we get in the movie. With that out of the way, I thought that the cold open was interesting in giving us what to expect later. This movie really doesn’t waste time getting creepy and it never goes too long without giving us something which I can appreciate. Parts of this creature and the story work for me while others don’t. The first being that we see what happens to this initial scene, but aside from establishing as I said. It really doesn’t come back to that.
What I do like here is we aren’t messing around whether or not there is a monster. The movie does play with no one really believing Ben, but I like that. It is a cliché to have a flawed character like him. I’m fine with it though, especially with a reveal at the end of the movie. This really confused Jaime and I do think there’s a bit of issue with it myself. The movie is making us think that Ben is sent there because he got in trouble, but there’s actually more to it which I liked.
This is slightly problematic though. Since this gets revealed pretty early on, Ben learns about the entity through a website called ‘Witchopedia’. The lore they’re using for it seems to be very similar to a Changeling that takes the form of people, but it doesn’t use all of the aspects. Using the deer skull also made me think of a Wendingo as well. It really just seems to be borrowing aspects of both for what we get here. I’m fine with that since it is creating something. What it does though is eat the ‘forgotten’. My problem here is that Ben seems to remember those that are forgotten where other people don’t, but there’s something he does forget. It just seems inconsistent in my eyes and really just altering things to progress the story.
What I did like though was the acting. I thought that Howard was solid as our lead here. Even though it is a cliché, I like that they make him a flawed character that we can’t believe. Plus he does some crappy things to Mallory, Sara and Liam so we don’t love him. I like my heroes to be like this. Curda is solid as his quirky counterpart who is more grounded and not really believing him. I think that Mahler does a really good job at being the character. We get a slight baseline of her norm before she changes. There’s quite a bit of children actors here which I thought were fine. Overall I’d say no one really had a bad performance and I commend some of them for a reveal as well.
The last thing I really wanted to delve into would be the effects. It is movies like this that I get a bit nervous about since they tend to go more CGI heavy. This one does seem to go CGI. I don’t want to give the impression that it doesn’t. There are some really good aspects though that is done practically. Having The Wretched shown in darkness is good. The glowing eyes are creepy and what they do with the CGI to enhance worked for me. The only issue I really had was a gunshot as I could tell that was done with computers. Cinematography for the movie was also well done.
Now with that said, this movie I was glad I gave it a viewing. I think that we have an interesting concept here with a creature that for me borrowed from a couple different things to make it its own. There are some slight issues with logic that I had, but the acting was solid. The effects for the most part are good. I never got bored and the soundtrack fit for what was needed from what I could remember. For me, this is a good movie in my eyes. It also has the potential to be one of my favorites of the year thus far.
My Rating: 8 out of 10