Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
This October I decided to watch and review some of those great horror movies (31 to be exact) that I missed on their initial release. And for Part 20 of my series of the 31 OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES YOU (MAY HAVE) MISSED we will be checking out throwback horror The Wretched. Let’s get to it:
Day 20 of 31: The Wretched (2019)
Director: Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones
Plot: A defiant teenage boy struggling with his parents’ imminent divorce faces off with a thousand year-old witch who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door.
Review: This one is a bit more mainstream than the other movies I’ve covered this month. Debuting during the early days of the Covid pandemic, it actually did very well at the box office and got decent reviews. What made this one stand out more from the usual horror flicks geared towards a younger audience (Goosebumps et cetera) is that the story itself is much darker than you would expect it to be, and the visuals back this up nicely. A throwback of sorts to films like The Witches or The Gate, The Wretched is the sort of horror movie I would’ve loved as a pre-teen with its easy to follow narrative and likeable cast of lead characters. It also boasts an antagonist that would probably feature in any young viewer’s nightmares. And with a nice and breezy runtime of an hour and half, this is a solid choice for anyone looking for something to watch that isn’t too gruesome but also doesn’t treat its target audience with kids gloves.
Visually the movie looks really good. The special effects and the design of the witch itself are excellent, and the cinematography fits well with the locations shown. I appreciated that the scenes shot at night weren’t impossible to make out (something that happens all too often in horror movies) and the creepy tone filters into the daylight as well.
So now that we’ve covered the treats let’s break down the tricks, and by that I mean the aspects of The Wretched that don’t quite work. Kid actors can be hit or miss and in the case of John-Paul Howard as Ben, the young man who discovers his neighbor is a witch in disguise, I felt he lacked screen presence. Maybe I’m being harsh here, but Ben as a character doesn’t leave much of an impact, and considering he’s the lead that’s not a good thing. Luckily the story itself, combined with solid directing and tight pacing, makes it easy to focus on the energy of the film as a whole, so Howard’s performance never really became a problem.
The next issue I had was with the twist ending. Now I have no problem with a good twist; quite the opposite as some of the most memorable movies out there are the ones with a fantastic twist thrown in. But nothing annoys me more than an unnecessary subplot tossed in just to leave room open for a sequel. This popped up in my review of Impetigore (Day 19 of 31, see link below) and it happens again here. It’s not a terrible twist, but the movie would’ve worked fine if they had wrapped it up at its natural stopping point, so I just don’t see why we needed to have this here.
Overall though The Wretched is a fun throwback to the kiddie horror flicks of the 80s and perfect viewing for a Halloween horror marathon with friends and family. Just remember to keep it PG-13 unless you want to ensure your kids don’t sleep in their own beds for the rest of the year.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
You can check out Part 19 of my 31 Days List and Indonesian Horror Impetigore below together with my review of Netflix’s dark fantasy Nightbooks:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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