• Samantha Howson

The Wretched (2019)

Director: The Pierce Brothers

Writer: The Pierce Brothers

Actors: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Mahler, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai, Kevin Bigley, Blane Crockarell, Judah Abner Paul and Ja’layah Washington.

Genre: Horror

You know those movies that you put on just to kill some time, then it ends up blowing your mind. The Wretched is that movie. The unassuming film which makes you fall in love with movies all over again. It could be nostalgia for an era of stories, or it could have been the fact that I wasn’t expecting much from it; but this film is great!

Hyperbole aside, The Wretched was written and directed by the Pierce Brothers, Brett and Drew. While having other credits to their name, this film is their first big budget feature film. It follows Ben (Howard) who’s life with his soon-to-be divorced parents takes an unusual turn when the woman next door Abbie (Mahler) starts to act strangely.

This film gave me throwbacks to 80s and 90s: Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and R.L Stine. While it is a horror film, its horror is more reminiscent of The Goonies or Goosebumps, adding a dash of IT for extra creepiness. Saying this though, it’s an elegant, sophisticated and tight story whether you’re a horror fan or not. There’s no room for confusion or flaws and the twist really blew me away; more so in the way it was revealed than the twist itself.

The film has a light grain, which is comforting for being a kid of the 90s and the visuals really fuels the teen horror aspect. Overall the aesthetics are minimal, giving the cinematography centre stage, while emphasising the acting and story. John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda and Zarah Mahler are particular stand out performances. Howard as the hero of the story and the boy next door is engaging, relatable and plays the protective role well. Mahler playing the next-door neighbour is incredible. Her transformation is brilliantly acted and is perfectly creepy.

I don’t think I could recommend this film more. As a horror film fan, I am constantly looking for the next film that gives me those creeped out feelings I got as a kid and then teenager. The last time I was excited about a pair of writer/ directors was Leigh Whannell and James Wan. And they went onto deliver some of my favourite horror films (Insidious (2010), Saw (2004), The Invisible Man (2020), The Conjuring (2013) and Upgrade (2018) {ok, that last one is an action film…but still amazing}). I say these films make me fall in love with films again because of how they utilise the medium of film. It’s easy to tell the audience what’s happening or what to feel; it’s harder to show it and even harder to make the audience feel like they figured it all out.

The Wretched has brought that feeling back, and then some. Written and directed by the Pierce brothers, I am very excited to see what they make next. This film really impressed me with both the filmmaking and story. It’s edited and paced well, being a film length of an hour and half, it doesn’t bother with unnecessary characters or side plots. The storyline itself is quite simple, and like some of those examples above, it’s the execution of the story into film that makes these films so great!

Production Designer: Mars Feehery

Cinematographer: Conor Murphy

Music: Devin Burrows

Production Company: Little Runway

Distribution: IFC Midnight

Budget: $66 Million



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Poster images were found through: www.impawards.com

All opinions are my own and factual information is found through IMDB or Wikipedia.