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‘The Wretched’ (review)

Produced by Chang Tseng, Ed Polgardy,
Brett Pierce, Drew Pierce

Written and Directed by The Pierce Brothers
Starring John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda,
Zarah Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Richard Ellis,
Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden,
Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

 

This past spring, the very low budget horror flick The Wretched became the first film since Avatar to top the US box office for six weeks in a row.

Which is certainly not to say that the film did Avatar-like numbers, but due to theaters being closed thanks to Covid-19, the drive-in has been doing bang-up business lately, and The Wretched dominated that crowd for weeks, pulling in $2.9 million. This stat hardly guarantees quality, but The Wretched turns out to be perfect drive-in fare and is quite entertaining as home viewing as well.

The premise is a tried-and-true one: teenager Ben has come to live with his father for the summer in the midst of his parents’ divorce.

While there, he begins to suspect the neighbor is a witch.

The cool hook is that the witch has the power to make people forget completely about family members.

Thus, she can abduct a child, say, and the parents won’t look into the disappearance because they don’t remember having that child.

I love “boy who cried wolf” stories and this one’s a doozy.

Usually, as in Fright Night (one of my favorites) people don’t believe the kid because vampires/witches/werewolves don’t exist.

But here, the main reason is because of the witch’s power over memory.

It’s frustrating in the best dramatic sense. We feel for the kid and are drawn into his story and dilemma.

The Wretched also is appealing in its summertime milieu. Ben spends a lot of his time at the local marina, which gives the film a terrific, sunny atmosphere to contrast with its moody night scenes around the house and in the nearby woods.

There are many suspenseful scenes and a handful of decent scares, and Ben’s relationship with the pretty local girl and with his father are convincing and affecting.

The film culminates in a satisfying finale, making The Wretched a minor, but impressive, horror film.

The Wretched is available on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand & Digital HD.

 

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