Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Dark and the Wicked (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Dark and the Wicked (2021)
Genre: Horror
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Traveling Picture Show Company (TPSC), Unbroken Pictures, Shotgun Shack Pictures, Inwood Road Films, Gusto entertainment, Paradise Group, RLJE Films, Shudder
Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer: Bryan Bertino
Actors: Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr., Julie Oliver-Touchstone, Lynn Andrews, Tom Nowicki, Michael Zagst, Xander Berkeley, Charles Jonathan Trott, Ella Ballentine, Mel Cowan, Mindy Raymond, Chris Doubek
Blurb from IMDb: On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.

Selina’s Point of View:
I think Bryan Bertino (The Blackcoat's Daughter, Mockingbird, The Monster) made something out of the box here. 
Upon watching the trailer, I thought it looked decent – if a little typical. I’m not mad at the coming attractions, because I don’t think they could have done better without spoilers.
The Dark and the Wicked must have been incredibly hard to advertise, because it was subtle.
In a basic bitch horror there are enough jump scares that don’t involve plot points, allowing for a scarier trailer. This film didn’t have any that wouldn’t have directly spoiled the entire story. I love that. That means that the high-pitched musical note indicating fear has nothing to do with a cat tipping over a garbage pail or something.

That’s not the only way The Dark and the Wicked was subtle. There were still high-pitched notes and jump scares, I just think they were utilized very well. On top of that, a lot of the scares involved a psychological twist that made it difficult to tell if anything had really happened.
My only issue is that, because it wasn’t as in-your-face, it could sometimes feel a little slow. Still, whenever my attention started to stray, it was like the movie knew. That’s precisely when something would happen to draw me back.
I think The Dark and the Wicked is a solid horror flick.
It premieres on Shudder February 25th.

Cat’s Point of View:
Bryan Bertino has written, directed, and/or produced some seriously creepy and noteworthy horror over recent years. His debut film was The Strangers (2008), after all, which has taken on a cult following. Seriously, he hit a home run and really hasn’t looked back. Right away I anticipated for something that was going to be intense.
The Dark and the Wicked certainly delivered that in spades.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I startle easily. One of my husband and teen’s favorite pastimes is finding ways to scare the crap out of me when I least expect it. Jump scares can really get me sometimes. There were a few here. The movie wasn’t without some of the standard horror tropes, but it didn’t use them as a crutch. That wasn’t everything the production had to offer. I am thankful for that because getting startled every 30 seconds is not my idea of a fun time.
I also appreciated how the setting was utilized to its maximum potential. The farm felt like it was carved out of time with its austere structures, things like land-line corded phones, the remoteness, and isolation. It layered brilliantly into the desperation and plight of the characters. Kudos to the production team for deciding to use the director’s family farm for this purpose. It was clear that they maximized his intimate knowledge of the location to its best effect.
The plot was interesting. It felt a little familiar, but I couldn’t quite say that I’ve ‘seen it before,’ even if elements within the story weren’t entirely unique. The cast also delivered solid performances for the most part. 

Marin Ireland (The Family Fang, Sneaky Pete, The Empty Man) and Michael Abbott Jr. (Mud, In the Radiant City, Shifting Gears) meshed well as siblings trying to cope with heartbreaking and baffling circumstances. When you throw something supernatural into family drama such as this, it can make for a hell of an emotional ride. I was almost in tears in some places.
Of course, then there were the moments where I actually shouted at my screen, said ‘oh God!’ and covered my eyes. It happened more than once. The film was outright unflinchingly brutal in places.
The Dark and the Wicked left me with a seriously unsettled feeling. There are some bits that didn’t play out as well for me, but overall, this was a serious horror contender.  Exhaustion had to claim me before I could get to sleep after watching this last night.
I love watching horror movies in the dark – especially when there’s a lot of actual literal darkness in a film. It makes it easier to see when I don’t have to fight light-glare on my screens. Some part of me wishes I’d tried in the light of day instead. I’d say that makes this a success.
If you’ve got a Shudder subscription and you’re looking for some dramatic horror, this would certainly fit the bill.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 63%
Metascore – 72/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.2/10
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

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