M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2017 and going through September 30, 2018. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. 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, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on March 23, 2018. Available on Blu-ray/DVD, On Demand, and digital download from IFC Midnight/The Shout Factory! Also streaming on Hulu!

PYEWACKET (2017)

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 word to say, PYEWACKET is a rock solid little tiptoe into witchcraft that will end up resonating on a much more emotional level that one might be surprising. With a likable cast, subtle effects, and a dense emotional core, PYEWACKET is a witchy movie to watch out for.

It’s the old “be careful what you wish for” nugget, retold with modern day teen 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 friends behind and not being consulted about all of this, Leah resorts to the witchcraft that her friends from school dabble in for fun. But because of the emotional heft that Leah carries with her, she summons a demon named 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 power to PYEWACKET, making it much better than your usual teen horror fare. 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 retain likability 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 once said and done. 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 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 a clear shot of the monster 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 we do see are pretty gnarly, earth goddess-style stuff with lots of wood, dirt, and forestry coming to life, 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 with this one. The acting is top tier from Muñoz and Holden, plus there’s 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.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2017-2018 COUNTDOWN!


#29 – PAYWACKET
#30 – TERRIFIER
#31 – MAYHEM


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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