Recently released to streaming is the supernatural horror movie, The Dark and the Wicked. Set on a farm in Texas, the movie is a chilling tale written and directed by Bryan Bertino.
Starring Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr. and Xander Berkeley, The Dark and the Wicked follows the story of two adult siblings, Louise and Michael, who return to their family home, when the health of their father begins to decline. But when they arrive at the property, they find their mother is acting strange, becoming very insistent that her children leave as soon as possible, and there appears to be odd noises in the house.
Over the coming days, the situation with both the mother and father worsens, and Louise and Michael find themselves caught up in a tense, frustrating, and frightening situation. They also discover they are not alone in the house, and whatever lurks in the shadows has no plans to leave them be.
If you’re a horror fan, then you may have heard of The Dark and the Wicked prior to today. The movie received its world premiere back in August 2020, at the Fantasia International Film Festival, before getting a limited theatrical release in Russia (October), in the US (November), and in the Netherlands (December).
In the UK, the movie has bypassed cinemas and is currently streaming on Shudder. The Dark and the Wicked is available for all subscribers to watch, or can be viewed for free for those wanting to try out Shudder’s no-cost 7-day trial.
Is it worth it? Many will tell you it is – as there has been a fairly positive buzz around this movie. As for me? I’m not so sure.
The Dark and the Wicked is a bleak, atmospheric picture, which makes the most of its setting. The rural Texas backdrop brings isolation and claustrophobia to the story, and the use of lighting helps with the horror, but this is a slow burning movie which flickers, yet never blazes.
There are large chunks of the movie that are unnerving, and there are some genuinely creepy moments which work really well. One moment in particular involves the matriarch of the family and a chopping board (I’ll leave you to guess what happens).
However, in between these scenes there are parts of the picture that are a real slog to get through, and at various points in the story I found myself mentally checking out. I wanted to get lost in the darkness of this film, as it delves into some gruesome, unsettling places; but instead, I found myself reaching for my phone in between scares, just for something to focus on.
I should add, I didn’t pick up my phone – my eyes did remain firmly on the screen – but I really was tempted and this is such a shame. At no point can I honestly say that the movie fully captured my attention.
For me, the pace of The Dark and the Wicked is its greatest enemy, but it isn’t the only issue that I had with the picture – I also felt that it lacked originality. The scares and the gorier moments were handled well, but I never got the sense that I was watching something I hadn’t seen time and time again.
There was a moment when watching this film where I started thinking about other horror movies. This wasn’t because The Dark and the Wicked reminded me of a particular horror film from the past, but because I could have happily spent my time revisiting a horror classic, rather than devoting 90-minutes to this one.
Ultimately, The Dark and the Wicked did not work for me in the way I would have liked. It looked good, demonstrated a lot of potential, and there is something very interesting in here, but it all fell a little flat.
A few tweaks and this would have been a much stronger film. It’s not bad, it’s not great, it just is.