On an isolated farm in a rural town, an old man is lying in his deathbed. As he is slowly dying, his children (Louise and Michael) visit their homestead to mourn, despite their mother’s warning that they should not have come…a warning that she never really explain and thus it’s bound to go unheeded, of course. When the night comes, their mother starts behaving strangely, and after cutting off her fingers in the kitchen she hangs herself in the barn. Despite the shocking reveal for Louise and Michael the next day when they find her, they still decide to stay in the house in order to look after their dying father. However, when the home nurse confides in them that she overheard their mother whispering to what seemed to be some other presence in the room, they start to understand more about what really happened to their mother. After finding her diary, they read that their mother believed a supernatural entity was after their father’s soul, and soon they also experience the sinister ways of the wicked presence that tries to take over the family.
The Dark and The Wicked is a supernatural horror movie directed by Bryan Bertino, who previously directed The Strangers (2008) and The Monster (2016). Right from the get-go you realize that this is going to be a film that focuses on atmosphere, and there’s a trepidation of what to come. And yes, what comes is really dark and wicked indeed.
The Dark and The Wicked really does delve into nightmarish territory, and it’s a fun fact that Bertino actually shot the film in his own hometown in Texas, at his parents’ own farm. In order to enhance the feeling of isolation and creeping dread, the remote rural surroundings are perfect for this purpose. The family dynamic is strained, riddled with guilt and suppressed feelings, and it reminded me a bit of the same feeling of growing anticipation that I experienced during The Relic. It’s an emotionally driven story of a family that find themselves trapped in the net of something that slowly gets closer and closer to its goal. The siblings have been estranged from their parents for quite a while, rarely visiting them and thus feeling shame and guilt now that their father is lying in his deathbed. This also explains why they’re not heeding their mother’s warnings, and since they’ve had so little contact over the years they just believe she went insane. But, after one terrifying event after the other, the siblings eventually realize that their mother wasn’t just crazy, there really is a malevolent force coming, and it’s hungry for a soul.
The movie is doing an excellent job on being outright creepy, and there are more than a few scenes that are grotesque and stomach-churning, heightened with solid performances. In the end, though, there are a few questions unanswered, and the story feels a bit lacking at times where there’s more focus on the actual experiences the siblings have in their old family home, rather than any explanations for why it is happening or how it came to be like this. Also, the ending feels a bit…abrupt? However, with such a creepy and unsettling atmosphere with some very effective scenes, it’s bound to please those who want something…well, dark and wicked to watch.
Directors: Bryan Bertino
Country & year: USA, 2020
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