Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: "The Wretched" takes a familiar trope and makes it fresh

The Wretched Review

For as long as we have been telling stories, there have been certain tropes that you can expect from horror stories. We know what vampires are. We know what werewolves are. We know ghosts, demons, witches, gremlins, goblins, spirits, zombies and the entire list of monsters you may have spotted on the list in "Cabin In The Woods." How these characters have lasted so long in our pop culture depends on how they can be renovated, how they can survive through the times.

"The Wretched" doesn't necessarily break new ground. But they put a fresh spin on a trope we've seen in horror stories for awhile and there are situations set up that are quite frightening. The movie begins in 1985. A teenage girl calls her mom to let them know that she got to her friend's house okay, but the weird thing is that the house is strangely silent. She is trying to look around and sees pictures of her friend's family with their faces ripped out. She eventually finds something creepy in the basement, and she is locked in with it.

We then jump to present day, Ben (John-Paul Howard) moves in with his dad Liam (Jamison Jones) who gets his son a job at the local marina, while him and Ben's mother are in the middle of a divorce. Ben gets picked on by some bullies, but he's meeting plenty of girls and he's just trying to lead a normal teenage life, despite not liking that his father is already dating again. What makes things worse is that he is noticing something strange about his neighbors. There is no way that the mother next door is a witch right?

One thing that definitely appealed to me watching this movie is how it took a semi-new spin on tropes we've expected from witches. Ever since becoming a father, I've noticed that I am much more affected when children in movies are in danger. For an entity that prides itself on subjugation and harm of children, there were plenty of times where my blood ran cold. There is a great scare in particular using a baby monitor that I am not sure I'll be able to shake any time soon. It seems in the old legends, witches always had nasty schemes that used children, so that idea is brought to life in a new direction here. It leads to some very dark avenues in this movie and I have to give the movie big kudos for never shying away from the darkness.

There is also a bit of twist near the end, and I have to say I didn't at all see it coming. I think in the context and development of the movie, it fit really well into the story. There is definitely something revealed here that was a total shocker and when anyone can pull that off, that's a great showing indeed.

There is a nice slow burn here, so I hope you don't get too bored watching. I think the biggest detractor for this movie is how many times I felt like I was looking at my watch. Just know that the hits start coming fast and furious at the end and there is still plenty of fun to be had before the credits roll. 

FINAL GRADE: B+ 

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