How did I compile this list? There’s no real method to my special brand of madness. I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2017 and September 30, 2018 and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released in October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like HALLOWEEN or SUSPIRIA just yet. I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion in a separate post that is worth noting this year or missed being on the list by a skosh for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Why is PYEWACKET #26? Because this film is a heartbreaking and emotional rollercoaster about the nievetee and recklessness of youth and how actions have real consequences seen through a horror lens. Acted superbly and directed with an unflinching lens, this is a film that will leave a mark. You can find PYEWACKET from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory here on iTunes and Amazon!
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Written by Adam MacDonald
Starring Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere, James McGowan, Neil Whitely, Victoria Sanchez, Missy Peregrym, & Bianca Melchior as Pyewacket!
ON top of being damn fun to say, PYEWACKET is a rock solid little tiptoe into witchcraft tale that will end up resonating on a much more emotional level that one might be used to in a fairy tale or horror film. With a likable cast, subtle effects, and a dense emotional core, PYEWACKET is a witchy movie to watch.
It’s the old “be careful what you wish for” yarn, retold with modern day angst. A troubled teenager named Leah (Nicole Muñoz ) is angry because her equally troubled mother (Laurie Holden) decides to uproot their home because it reminds her too much of her dead husband/Leah’s father. Upset to be leaving her friend’s behind and not being consulted about all of this, Leah resorts to the witchcraft that her friends dabble in for fun. But because of the emotional heft of Leah’s spell, she summons a demon called Pyewacket to kill her mother after an especially nasty mother/daughter argument in the middle of the woods outside their home. Waking with a level head and a misunderstanding of what she has done, Leah desperately fights to reverse the spell before the demon comes for her mother.
There’s a lot of emotional weight to PYEWACKET and this is why I like it. The angst felt by Leah is convincing and both her mother and her have a point to their arguments as they deal with the death of their husband/father. This would come off as teenage whining if not for the fact that Nicole Muñoz is one hell of a little actress. She is able to still make us like her, even though some of the stuff she is doing is pretty heinous. Lauren Holden is also convincing as the heavily burdened mother trying to support her family, but dealing with a great loss as well. It a believable relationship seeing both mother and daughter saying and doing things that are truly ugly and are hard to take back to one another. And that’s kind of the point of the whole film; once you say something, it’s hard to take it back and sometimes those words dig in deeper than one might think.
The demon Pyewacket itself is often seen in the periphery or just out of focus in the background. It is often heard, but not seen—still the presence is ominous due to some fantastic decisions in directing and sound. Those of you who get mad because you don’t get to see the monster clearly have something to get assed up about here. But it didn’t bother me as much because I was so invested in this complex and believable relationship between a teenage daughter and her mother. The effects that are shown are pretty gnarly, earth goddess-style stuff with lots of wood, dirt, and forestry, giving the entire supernatural element to this film a down to earth and grimy feel.
While those looking for a monster of the week flick might be left wanting, I was caught hook line and sinker into this one. The acting it top tier from Muñoz and Holden, plus a strong performance by Leah’s friend Janice (played by Chloe Rose). There are moments of this one that reminded me of the harrowing sadness achieved in Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES. If you’ve seen that film, you’ll know what I mean. PYEWACKET is as much an emotional horror tale as a physical one about witchcraft. I think that’s why I loved it so much.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#31 – Sam Patton’s DESOLATION
#30 – CULT OF CHUCKY
#29 – 1922
#28 – PSYCHOPATHS
#27 – GHOST STORIES
#26 – PYEWACKET
Best of lists from previous years;
2016-17 #1 – RAW
2015-16 #1 – THE VVITCH
2014-15 #1 – THE CANAL
2013-14 #1 – PROXY
2012-13 #1 – MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
M. L. Miller is an original AICN @$$Hole formerly known as Ambush Bug/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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Don’t forget to share and like and finally, Happy Horror Holiday Month to Everyone!