2/22/2021

The Dark and the Wicked (Review)


Writer/ Director: Bryan Bertino
Cast: Marin Ireland, Michael Abbot Jr., Julie Oliver-Touchstone, Lynn Andrews, Tom Zowicki
Year: 2020
Min: 95

Two siblings, Michael (Michael Abbot Jr.) and Louise (Marin Ireland), head to their scheduled family farm house. They are there to see their sickly father (Michael Zagst), who is bed ridden, unresponsive, and has deteriorating health. Their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) cares for him mostly by herself, with occasional help from a nurse (Lynn Andrews). But, their mom isn't behaving like her usual self, at all, instead acting disturbed, uneasy, and looking utterly miserable. She also let's them know that they shouldn't have come, and that they need to leave immediately. Things, from then on, turn continuously worse and increasingly nightmarish. 

Written and directed by Bryan (The Strangers) Bertino, The Dark and the Wicked is a 2020 supernatural horror movie. It garnered some strong reviews last and year, and I remember that it got some fans talking about it. The actual film, itself, is a little more uneven, that you may have been lead to believe. But, it isn't without its merits.

Bertino gives us a really good looking movie. The cinematography by Tristan Nyby is gorgeous. There is some really nice frame composition and good use of shadow and light. All of this helps to contribute to the movie's continuous downbeat and chilling feeling. This look fits the film's tone perfectly. As it is a flick that is  never fun on any level, save for a scene that has a cute baby sheep. 

The script by Bertino makes the mystery of what is happening intriguing and unnerving. His story and directing is that of a slowly paced movie, at times, maybe, a little too slow. But, whenever it feels like it has slowed to a halt, something shocking will occur. The first truly jaw-dropping moment in the movie actually breaks up the quiet, unease that it previously set-up, bitch slapping you back into reality. It is a soul crushing, downer of a moment. The flick also has some decent jump scares, that, at least, don't turn out to be fake-outs. 

I love the score by Tom Schraeder. It is somber evocative, and creepy. It tonally fits the movie perfectly. The film also has excellent sound design, as it takes full advantage of its surround sound. This helps it to further up the creep factor, as sound effects permeate from the right and the left, sometimes making you wonder what the hell it is your hearing. And, if it is even coming from the movie, itself. This is a strong method that really helps it get under your skin. 

The acting from the whole case is excellent. Marin Ireland is especially good as Louise. Her performance really helps you to feel for her. Michael Abbot Jr, as her brother Michael, is fine as well. And, I have to say that it is always a treat to see Xander (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Nikita) Berkeley in anything, here doing a memorable, albeit small, turn as the Priest.

On the other hand, nothing new is done. While, it certainly is alarming, at times, it also very much follows the tropes set up by this kind of movie. As the movie progresses, the clich├ęs begin to increase in frequency. The climax has some twisted moments that are mixed in with others that are more predictable in nature. I am most definitely not a fan of the ending which, honestly, comes off as cheap and contrived, especially since it follows something that is pretty twisted. 

The Dark and the Wicked won't win any points for breaking new ground. Its pacing aims for a slow burn approach, which might be to everyone's liking. Although, it does throw-in a shocking scene every time it feels too slow. However, it definitely achieves its aim to be creepy and unnerving. The climax is alternately shocking and predictable. While, the movie's ending feels cheap and lazy. Say what you will though the movie looks great and has excellent acting by the whole cast. This is one that certainly worth a look, but is definitely not the masterpiece some have proclaimed it to be. The Dark and the Wicked will begin streaming on Shudder this Thursday, February 25, 2021. 



 

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