THE WRETCHED Is 'The Witch' For Everyone Else
Synopsis: A troubled teenager staying with his dad becomes embroiled in horror when he discovers a witch that lives inside the bodies of her victims has taken over next door.
Directed by: Brett and Drew Pierce (Dead Heads)
Starring: John-Paul Howard (Hell or High Water), Piper Curda (Teen Beach 2), Jamison Jones (He Was A Quiet Man) and Zarah Mahler (Manson Girls)
The Wretched has made some noise lately, taking over the #1 spot at the box office due to the film showing at drive ins during the pandemic. First off, let me just acknowledge that it's pretty fucking cool for this independent horror film to hold that title. Pandemic or no. Major credit is deserved. Too bad the movie industry couldn't find a way to thrive using makeshift drive ins in empty movie theaters during the pandemic. As usual, leave it to horror to be original, am I right? Sick burn, Hollywood. Eat me.
You know who eats people? This fuckin' witch. Kids to be specific. The opening lets you know you're in for a lot of herky jerky, gnarly witch eating kids type stuff and I'm here for it. You see, this witch in particular is different than most you've seen on screen. She hides inside the bodies of her victims and when she's done, she literally rips out from the inside of their skin.
The practical effects in The Wretched are spectacular. Matter of fact, they show this awful creature A LOT in the film and it's never too much. She looks different nearly every time you see her. I'm not sure if it was entirely practical or not but I never spotted much CGI and she was pretty goddamn frightening the entire time. Well done, FX team.
I didn't know it yet but I was pretty sick and tired of not seeing the witch in movies about goddamn witches.
Everything I've said to this point is a good enough reason to watch The Wretched. It's a fun film and even reasonably scary in spots. While I want to complain about the fact such a horrifying creature was wasted on a teen horror film, I can't. You see this film is the "gateway" horror Black Christmas and Truth or Dare claimed to be. The Wretched appeals to teens because of Ben's (Paul Howard) issues with both his parents and his young love issues but it also has some fucking teeth to it every once in a while.
Sure, the music is corny as two teens are about to kiss for the first time at a generic teen party. But there's also a scene where a deer corpses rotten insides spill onto the floor and I almost yacked on myself so, whatever.
Zarah Mahler stands out amazingly and I hope to see her in more films. She's basically tasked with playing multiple roles here which couldn't be further apart yet she's somehow charismatic in both. As a matter of fact all of the actors in the film are great with none of the standout inexperience that plague so many independent films. And the dad (Jamison Jones) looks just like Zack Snyder, so that's cool. Had to get that in there. Couldn't control myself.
If it weren't for the final act which raised more questions than answers and severely tried to over extend itself, I would have enjoyed The Wretched a lot more than I did. Most of the film worked extremely well as being the witch movie that gave us what most witch films don't. Straight up entertainment.
Imagine 'Darkness Falls' unrated and with better special effects. Maybe a touch of 'Drag Me To Hell' in there. There was one moment in the kitchen where I could have sworn Sam Raimi was holding the camera.
Nothing against the slow burn psychological horror of 'The Witch' or 'Gretel and Hansel' but this type of film is just more fun for a lot of people...and that's okay! But for the love of satan, almost all of these witchcraft films need to find a way to wrap things up better. 7/10
I'm kind of in a witch mood now. What are your favorite witch films? Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to our youtube channel to get all the Halloween Kills and horror news your heart can handle! You can rent 'The Wretched' on VOD now for $6.99
Here's a video we made about 'The Blair Witch Project'....only with rednecks. It's uh, called The Redneck Blair Witch Project.