Director: Bryan Bertino
Cast: Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr., Julie Oliver-Touchstone, Michael Zagst, Xander Berkeley, etc.
Release: November 6th, 2020
Overall Rating: 4.2/5
“On a secluded farm, a man is bedridden and fighting through his final breaths while his wife slowly succumbs to overwhelming grief. Siblings Louise and Michael return home to help, but it doesn’t take long for them to see that something’s wrong with mom—something more than her heavy sorrow. Gradually, they begin to suffer a darkness similar to their mother’s, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that an evil entity is taking over their family.” – Shudder Synopsis
If you found Hereditary, The Witch, or The Ritual entertaining with a great flair of horror integrated into an attention-grasping storyline, then this is definitely a movie to add to your ever-expanding watch list. The Dark and the Wicked, like many other horror films, bring to question a pair of siblings faith as everyone around them is tormented by an evil spirit wrecking havoc on their family farm. As they slowly fall into a manic state of mind, the entity begins to expose itself more and more as the days go by.
The soundtrack is one of the most important aspects to any form of media that involves motion picture. Some horror films manage to make silence the loudest thing within the story, and The Dark and the Wicked certainly doesn’t mind touching upon this. Although there are not many points within the film where silence prospers, it does help with building an intensity that can work you up a little more than expected. What makes this soundtrack amazing though is that the music matches the mood and the intensity. It allows the viewer to feel fear and mania before it happens, it lets you go, but with sudden abruptness it pulls the viewer right back in.
Cinematography wise, this is very similar to that of Hereditary, The Ritual, and many others that make the darker tones darker, and vivid colors pop out against a very dark grain. This film takes in both, allowing darks to be darker, and vivid colors to be visible. The setting is perfect, it’s isolated, it’s during a colder season, and it’s in an old farm. It is the perfect setting for a movie like this, where screams beg not to be heard, and help strays further away from the grasp of longing souls. What I feel, on a personal level, is what would have made this absolutely perfect is if it was in the dead of winter. A farm is isolated, yes, but even more when surrounded by the freezing climate of a winter storm.
When movie buffs talk about actors really playing into their roles that it becomes hard to distinguish the actor from the character they are playing, this is what they are talking about. We see Michael Abbott and Marin Ireland go from grown adults dealing with their own personal problems to two troubled souls attempting to figure out what the hell is going on in their family home. It’s within their facial expressions, it is so easily visible that they are in fear, that they are losing their grasp on what is real and what is not. Also, applause to the makeup artist who worked on this film, absolutely amazing job showing a lack of color and dip in sleep time on the two main actors. When comparing Marin Ireland to Ella Ballentine at the end of the film, there is a clear difference between them both health-wise.
The storyline is good. No doubt about it, it works, but it is a storyline that is seen time and time again. It has simply been rewritten this time around to fit the concept of the film. Bryan Bertino does a great job though at focusing on the parts that need focus. We have a mother who has fallen into a sleep-walking state of mind as she takes care of her dying husband, but as it turns out there is an evil entity that has taken over the house and the minds of those who go within its walls, and now to siblings have to attempt to figure everything out on their own. This concept has been used before, there isn’t much uniqueness to it, but I feel that Bryan Bertino does a great job at adding a twist to it so that it feels fresh and clean.
Jump scares are a staple of the horror genre. But within the confines of Hollywood, they have been made cheap and never really played a role in moving the story forward. That isn’t the case with The Dark and the Wicked, in fact, they do an absolutely tremendous job on jump-scare placements. They don’t feel cheap or quick, they have meaning to them and they are used to move the story along. They add depth to the characters and work in making their descent into madness as this evil entity slowly takes over all of them. Even better though is that the movie isn’t plagued with jump-scares. You don’t get one until you’re already a good amount into the movie, and when you do get it, it is so worth the jump. I am happy to say that I am not made to jump so easily, but this movie sure did make jump a couple of times.
This movie was absolutely worth the watch, and totally worth the hour and 35 minute runtime. Great jump-scares, great soundtrack, beautiful cinematography, outstanding acting, and a storyline that has been made to feel fresh, The Dark and the Wicked is up there in movie horrorifiedness with Hereditary, The Ritual, and so many others like it.