Title – The Dark and the Wicked (2020)
Director – Bryan Bertino (The Strangers)
Cast – Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr., Julie Oliver-Touchstone
Plot – Brother and sister Michael (Abbott Jr.) and Louise Straker (Ireland) return home to their parents secluded farmstead to help their mother Virginia (Oliver-Touchstone) care for their ailing father but they begin so suspect the property is harboring some unwanted guests, guests determined to get what they want.
“Your mum, she was saying things”
Review by Eddie on 15/07/2021
Just his fourth feature film and third since his well-received debut The Strangers way back in 2008, director Bryan Bertino returns to our screens with Shudder’s latest high-profile horror offering The Dark and the Wicked, a slowly paced affair that shuns jump scares for mood and atmosphere as siblings Michael and Louise Straker return to their family farm to find a homestead overtaken by grief, fear and possibly something sinister.
Intending to help their mother tend to their ailing father who remains bed-ridden throughout the days and nights spent on the Straker property, Michael Abbott Jr’s Michael and Marin Ireland’s Louise quickly begin to realize that not all is going smoothly at their old place of residence, whether its the odd instances occurring in the animal quarters or their mothers undesirable cooking preparations, the Straker farm is a place that doesn’t appeal for a visit.
Wicked certainly strikes up a quickly established mood and vibe and it feels somewhat similar to films such as The Witch and Hereditary in the way it looks to suck its audience in through dread and anticipation, not so much constant gore (of which there are some stomach churning moments of here) and scares but even at 90 minutes of runtime Bertino’s film suffers as time wears on with all hopes laying at a big pay-off that never eventuates making this affair a solid enough outing without ever threatening to become more.
There’s some great central turns at the heart of this depressing horror yarn, both Michael Abbott Jr and Marin Ireland do good work as two in over their heads siblings while Oliver-Touchstone’s brief but important role as Virginia provides the film with some of its best and most eerie moments but many viewers will grow tired and weary of a procession of similar events that occur throughout the films lacking mid-section, halting the film in its tracks as it tries to progress towards a memorable and eventful ending.
For a low-budget affair the film feels well made and its easily Bertino’s best effort behind the camera since he burst onto the scene with The Strangers but his still yet to get close to reaching the horror heights of that feature as Wicked shows shines of something special but falters under the weight of audience’s expecting and deserving a little bit more.
Final Say –
The Dark and the Wicked is better than many counterparts but that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement considering the bulk of competition. Starting out with a lot intrigue and hope, this slow and more ponderous horror affair is unable to create anything worthy of much note.
2 1/2 messy dinner preps out of 5