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The Wretched Main

The Wretched Movie Review

Written by Karin Crighton

Released by IFC Midnight

the wretched poster large

Written and directed by Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce
2019, 95 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on May 1st, 2020

John-Paul Howard as Ben
Piper Curda as Mallory
Jamison Jones as Liam
Azie Tesfai as Sara

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Ben’s not pleased to be spending his summer working at his dad’s marina, but after getting into fights back home, his mother insists. Abrasive and brooding, things pick up when he meets his fun and pretty co-worker Mallory (Piper Curda) and he starts to bond with the neighbor’s little wild child Dillon (Blane Crockarell). When Dillon fails to turn up for a sailing lesson, Ben (John-Paul Howard) checks in with Dillon’s dad - who has no idea who Dillon is. As more children begin to disappear, Ben realizes something much stranger is going on around him. But if no one can remember, how can they help?

The Wretched is better than the sum of its parts; the overall story once you see the whole picture is cohesive if not totally satisfying. The building suspense is steady, and the final “gotcha” is well hidden and delivered, but broken apart into its elements, the film loses traction.

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With a beautiful creation like a skin-walker with a deer-skull head, I want to know more. Once its influence is infesting Dillon’s mother Abbie (Zarah Mahler), the danger of this spectacular demon isn’t clear. What is the lore? What does it want? Why was it born? The Wretched leaves questions about its motives wholly unanswered, naturally frustrating when it’s the star. But moreover, why does this matter so much to Ben?

The teen coming-of-age moments are pretty awkward between Mallory and Ben, formulaic and kind of cute, but the inclusion of local bullies pulls their story off track and falls flat. Piper Curda is a lot of fun to watch as Mallory, she throws herself into the role and really makes it her own. John-Paul Howard does a satisfactory job as Ben, but there doesn’t seem to be as much for him to work with. Ben may learn to be less of an obnoxious teenager in The Wretched, but his flailing and fighting are all one-note.

Don’t get me wrong, The Wretched is definitely better than anything you’re finding scrolling through Netflix on Quarantine Day 43. It’s creepy and dark, the design is slick, and the cast is solid. It’s just not the entire story we could have heard, and I would have preferred it all.

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Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Karin Crighton
Staff Writer | Lunatic
Karin doesn't know anything about movies, but has a lot of time and opinions to yell into the void. When she's not directing plays in and around NYC, she's watching every horror movie on every streaming service. And probably talking to a cat.
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