THE WRETCHED (2019)
Directed by Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce
Written by Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce
Starring John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai, Zarah Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Judah Abner Paul, Ja’layah Washington, Amy Waller, Ross Kidder, Kasey Bell, Harry Burkey, Trudie Underhill, Sydne Mikelle, Tug Coker, Owen Thomas Pierce, Pamela Gray, Ryan Alexander Holmes, Kenzie Jones, & Madelynn Stuenkel as the Wretch!
Find out more about this film here!
While it definitely has a DAWSON’S CREEK/WB teen drama vibe, THE WRETCHED delivers a lot of stylistic and creepy horror moments of witches and weirdness.
New kid in town Ben (John-Paul Howard) is having some issues; his dad is dating someone new, the popular kids are treating him like he has the plague, and there’s a witch living next door to him. When the neighbor kid goes missing, he believes the house has been cursed by a witch from the surrounding woods. And now that he suspects her, the witch (Zarah Mahler) is setting her sights on him.
THE WRETCHED is directed by the Pierce Brothers (Brett and Drew) and it is a good looking film. The filmmakers seem to have a nice eye for the uncanny and the macabre, setting up some truly suspenseful scenes. With witches and cults being all the rage these days, it is hard to do witchcraft in a new and original way. And while this film relies on a lot of the same kind of earthy, wiccan details used in LOVELY MOLLY, BLAIR WITCH, the EVIL DEAD remake, and even stuff that go all the way back to Friedkin’s THE GUARDIAN, it still manages to work with some nice jump scares, suspenseful scenes, and muddy moments of wicked witchery.
Still, there are a lot of beats bogged down with teen angst, forced conflict with peers and potential love interests, and operatic family drama. It’s a familiar backdrop to stage a horror film, but immediately makes it feel like something seen before. The horror is nicely interspersed with all of this WB melodrama, but still, it all feels like too much filler in between the much more interesting witchy moments.
What you get with THE WRETCHED is a digestible and well-made horror film for the masses. It’s got a bit more bite than the usual Blumhouse mainstreamer, but it has all of the markings of a film made to appeal to as big an audience as possible who wants to be thrilled and walk away and move on to something else rather than a horror film that lingers with you long after. Never did I feel the lead character was not going to make it out alive. Never did I feel I’m going to see something over the top gruesome, gory, or macabre. It just felt safe, which is something one should never feel in a horror film. Still when THE WRETCHED gets vicious, it really gets vicious, which makes me look forward to what these talented filmmakers have in store for us next time around.