The Wretched (2019) Movie Review
Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce
Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce
Stay tuned for a very special episode of this review following the review itself. Then that episode will have an after-show followed by a podcast that nobody listens to.
Embedded into this review of the mediocre horror movie The Wretched are some tips about firework safety as this is being written during the 4th of July weekend. If you’re reading this after the 4th of July, then this is being written on Halloween or Christmas. Whenever you’re reading it, it’s probably during a time when you can get your hand blown off by being careless with fireworks.
My friend Donnie lost his hand to fireworks. He only had 3 months to live so it was probably moot.
Your friend Donnie probably deserved to have only 3 months to live.
These helpful tips are for people who deserve to have more months to live.
The Wretched opens with a prologue involving a babysitter and the child she’s supposed to be taking care of getting eaten by some kind of creature. Don’t tell mom that babysitter’s charge is dead. We don’t really remember the babysitter’s name but she’s probably not going to get a good reference since the kid she’s supposed to be taking care of ended up eaten. Then again she could probably skip that part whenever she interviews for a job and just chalk it up to inexperience.
The Wretched opens again with our teenage hero Ben (John-Paul Howard) riding a bus to visit his dad for the summer. We notice he has a cast on his hand. We wonder if it’s because he can’t stop self-abusing himself since he is a teenager. It seems like an extreme measure or we’ll just find out the real reason during the middle of the second act.
Ben’s mother and father are separated and Ben has a summer job lined up at a marina Ben’s dad Liam (Jamison Jones) manages. There’s some tension between father and son as you can sense that Ben is still pretty raw.
Ben sees a tree around the area where he lives. By that tree is a totally safe looking hole that would fit a child of 10 or under rather comfortably. He decides not to check it out because he’ actually seen a horror movie before.
Ben has just learned that his dad is dating a new person named Sara (Azie Tesfai). He’s upset but will have to get used to the new reality that his parents are separated and it’s definitely because of something he did or will do in the future.
At least his summer job sucks. Despite having a meet-cute with a female-co-worker his own age Mallory (Piper Curda), Ben is being picked on by the locals because he’s the new kid and he’s got a cast. Nothing stirs resentment like having a cast and being from out of town.
At this point I was waiting for something, anything scary to happen. I would wait about 10 minutes to a half hour more.
Because after this intro to Ben and his familial situation we’re going to meet the neighbors. Why? It’ll wrap into the story, but by the time you find out why you won’t care.
Ben’s neighbors Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Cockarell) are randomly going hiking in the forest. They get lost.
When they finally get delostified Abbie accidentally hits a deer on their way home.
Abbie wants to skin the deer and use its hooves and horns and wings and talons for practical things so the death isn’t wasted and Dillon learns a little something about life in the forest. Dillon’s dad is a little weary but there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong.
Except that we see…something coming out of the deer when no one’s looking. It looks exactly like creature that was eating the babysitter during the prologue.
We see the creature follow Abbie. We can assume what happens next.
Later, Ben sees/spies Abbie wearing an entirely different outfit than she had on earlier. Nobody would ever change their outfit in the middle of they unless they were possessed by a forest demon.
Ben finds that Dillon has snuck out of his own house and hidden himself away in Ben’s room. Ben asks why Dillon is there. Dillon says he’s terrified of his mother. Ben understands.
Abbie, or “Abbie” comes over the Ben’s house and asks about Dillon.
Dillon reluctantly leaves with his demon mother.
Ben and his new friend Mallory use the internet to find out there are creatures that feed on children and have the ability to make parents forget they have children at all. Ben does some more spying on the neighbors and sees that Abbie spends a lot of time going in and out of the outdoor cellar. What’s in that cellar? Probably something horrible.
During a time when Abbie’s away, Ben goes to the neighbor’s house to ask Dillon’s dad how Dillon is doing.
Dillon’s dad says that he doesn’t have a son named Dillon and to please get off his property.
Possibly for the first time ever, the internet has provided someone with accurate information about demons that come out of the forest, eat your children, and then make parents forget about them. If you think about it, it’s kind of nice as it softens the blow so parents aren’t so bummed about their children being eaten. #considerate
Now Ben’s summer has just gone from bad to worse because he’s not supposed to get his cast off for weeks. Doctors recommend your cast not get wet. Or bloody. Or soaked in the guts of dead children.
Maybe he won’t get it wet.
What Works With The Wretched
- The creature itself. It’s not seen a lot during the first 2 acts (though you wish it were), but when it is, it provides most of the movie’s very few frights.
- The final 15 minutes are the only time it feels like you’re actually watching a horror movie. Are they worth slogging through the rest of the production for the minimal reward? Not really, but if you’re forced to watch it for whatever reason, as least you know there’s something worth your wasted time. Sort of.
- A final shot you might see coming, but still brings what has been a pretty ponderous experience to a reasonably decent close.
What Doesn’t Work With The Wretched
- The first hour feels like one of those coming of age dramas that take place during the summer. There are hints at the horror movie you were hoping to watch, but they almost feel like afterthoughts. There’s nothing wrong with establishing character, but at least establish some tension as well.
- Though the creatures is well-rendered, after the credits (finally) roll you realize you can count the genuine scares in The Wretched on one hand. Maybe half of one hand.
The movie’s not wretched, but it’s not good either.