Monday 9 November 2020

The Dark and the Wicked (Movie Review)

Spooky season might be over, with Halloween now behind us, but that doesn't mean we won't continue to get some horror films crawling out of the woodwork, between now and the genre's traditional dumping ground of January. Studios have typically reserved the interim months between the two as a good time to put out some of their more cerebral horror offerings, with past November horror releases like Doctor Sleep coming to mind. And The Dark and the Wicked just happens to be another one of those.

Set on a farm in the middle of nowhere (itself a recipe for disaster in these types of films), the film centers upon a family of four after they are forced to come together as its patriarch (Michael Zagst) slowly dies on his deathbed. These include the adult siblings, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.), who are both there despite their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) expressly asking them not to come. But they soon understand why when they begin to experience disturbing visions that seem to herald the arrival of something truly dark and wicked.

The Dark and the Wicked is a slow-burn horror film that offers very little reward for enduring its blissfully short haunted house (family?) tale. Unless you consider feeling completely repulsed or dreary its own kind of reward, in which case you're in for a treat. None of that is to say that the film is a bad movie, not when it is so masterfully crafted and brilliantly realized. The film creates a feeling of dread through effective camera work and sound design, like any solid horror film should. But what really elevates the movie is the family drama at its center.

Throughout the movie, you can feel the pain the family members are going through as they watch helplessly as their patriarch succumbs to his illness. This is communicated through solid performances, with Marin Ireland in particular deserving of praise. All the horror movie staples come secondary to that family drama, which helps to humanize their experiences even when the chairs in the house start to move on their own.

While I enjoyed watching The Dark and the Wicked, I find it hard to recommend it. The film leans too heavily into the bleakness of its premise, that it neglects to provide any form of catharsis from all of it. I guess it is so effective in evoking the emotions it's sets out to evoke, that it leaves you emotionally drained by the time the credits roll, and that is neither a good thing or a bad thing.


  1. Dreary and repulsed is not my idea of a good time.

    1. Lol. Same here. But I guess this type of horror films have their audience, otherwise they wouldn't get made.