If you have a thing for horror films that will make your skin crawl and fill your soul with dread, then The Wretched will make for a very chilling watch that will be sure to inspire many jumps scares in its audience.
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.
Directors Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce, better known as the Pierce Brothers arrive on the scene here with this gnarly fright fest in The Wretched, and they certainly bring the chills. Taking the subject matter of the classic Witch in the Woods storyline, the Pierce Brothers take this motif and subvert it into a narrative that is entirely different from what audiences have seen before and the resulting product is sure to make you jump. The brothers inject a good dose of grindhouse film aesthetic into this one, and the film’s subject matter is in keeping with those classic drive-in scare movies such as The Evil Dead and Halloween.
The best word to describe the action of The Wretched is creepy, and the Pierce Brothers have some great collaborators in cinematographer Conor Murphy and composer Devin Burrows to help them achieve this. Murphy gives the film is a bleached, dark, wet look with a strong helping of dark greens and browns that brings out this film’s unnatural earthiness. Then there’s the unsettling, chilling score of Burrows which instantly puts you of guard and keeps you on edge as the scares build around you. Both score, cinematography, and the claustrophobic siege-like premise of the film keeps up the tension through the entire running time.
Alongside the Pierce Brother’s unique vision for the film, praise also needs to be heaped upon the film’s young cast including the film’s central performers John-Paul Howard who portrays Ben and Piper Curda who stars as Mallory. Curda is particularly good as Mallory, and her character sets up a very interesting twist that you won’s see coming. Both Howard and Curda bring out the idea of ‘teen angst as horror’ in The Wretched, and it’s good to see how family anxiety and the fears that such trauma can create are brought to life and shall we say horrified within The Wretched. I liked the dynamic that existed between these two characters of Ben and Mallory, and the Pierce Brothers bring this film together in such a way that a sequel could make things very fun indeed.
Creepy, crawly horror like The Wretched doesn’t come along that often, but when it does it seriously frightens you, and this film will satisfy loyal horror viewers along with its very different scares….but be warned it doesn’t let up for a moment…..