The Dark and The Wicked

Horror, Drama, Supernatural | 95 Min
The Dark And The Wicked Horror Movie Review
  • Release Date: 06 Nov, 2020
  • Director: Brian Bertino
  • Actors: Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr., Xander Berkeley
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental Guidance: Self harm, suicide, upsetting themes, female nudity, violence to children, violence to animals, language
  • Writers: Brian Bertino
  • Producers: Bryan Bertino, Adrienne Biddle, Sonny Mallhi, Kevin Matusow
  • Horror, Drama, Supernatural | 95 Min

On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Quick Fire Review. As always, this section is dedicated to shorter reviews. I tend to get a little wordy so these articles are a little easier to digest. I keep them to strictly under 1,000 words not including headers and this opening. Today we are taking a look at the supernatural horror movie The Dark and The Wicked.

Written and directed by Brian Bertino of The Strangers fame. This is one of those movies you read positive reviews for and like the sound of. Settle down to watch before realising your opinion doesn’t seem to fit with other people’s. This film just didn’t get me in the way it got many others. This was a surprise for me. I am a big fan of slow burn horror. It just never managed to capture me. With this in mind, let’s take a look.

The Dark and The Wicked

The Dark and the Wicked starts with a slow, almost overly considered, pace. Siblings Louise and Michael are returning to the family farm to help their mother. Their father has become completely unresponsive. The pair are not greeted with enthusiasm by the family’s matriarch. She told them to stay away. It isn’t long before it starts seeming like they should have done exactly that.

A firm dedication to establishing mood is easy to appreciate. Dropped in during the middle of a traumatic story. Louise and Michael reflect how unaware we are of the situation. Their mother, seemingly, senses danger. They aren’t welcome. Their efforts to help with their ailing father are too little, too late. There is a distinct sense that the viewer is supposed to feel as unwelcome as the siblings.

Incredibly Moody and Dark Horror

This is a movie that is unrelentingly moody. Scenes designed to shock come early in its runtime. The director is keen to draw your eyes to the background of every shot. There is a notable feeling of characters never actually being alone. The shadows providing more than just ambient mood setting. It’s all very well set up and fairly unsettling. Your eyes play tricks on you affording a sense of paranoia. If nothing else, The Dark and The Wicked keeps you busy. Each shot is very carefully considered.

That is something that really stands out about this film. It very much looks like a horror movie. The consistent need to watch the background. Coupled with exposed locations shrouded in dark is effective. There are few places that the characters go that seem safe. The sense of depression and foreboding is present throughout.

The Dark And The Wicked Horror Movie Review

This is one of those movies that never lets up on its mood. It doesn’t want the viewer to feel comfortable. Each scene is attempting to bring a new sense of hopelessness. The viewer should share in the feelings of Louise and Michael. We should suffer along with them. The combination of family trauma and “things in the shadows” works well. This is something The Dark and The Wicked deserves praise for. It also leads to something of a feeling of fatigue.

Relentless Scares For Better or For Worse

You will be one of two things here. Constantly unnerved or completely numb to it. The background watching, coupled with poorly developed scares, becomes tiring. This is a movie that spends much of its time going in circles. It’s like the director had a scare quota they had to hit. By the halfway point. You may be wondering why nothing significant has happened. You will have been bombarded by setups to scares. Most of them will have gone nowhere, though.

Loud ringing phones blare out to keep the viewer on edge. Dream sequences are predictable eventually giving way to waking hallucinations. The hallucinations hint at a trauma connected to the family’s situation. Is this grief? Is this a metaphor for living with a terminally ill person? Perhaps, but the execution is lacking leaving one wishing for more. Sinister characters appear tormenting the family and the viewer. You hope they offer deeper meaning but they don’t. The story is utterly bogged down by the director’s desire to unnerve.

A Paper Thin Plot

The backbone of the film is fairly sound. The patriarch of a household has a terminal illness. His wife, fatigued from caring for him, is feeling hopeless. Something appears to be haunting the family. It is standard horror fare. Unfortunately, it never develops beyond that. There appears to be a message somewhere in here. Those of us who have lived with someone with a terminal illness may get it. It impacts everyone around them in some way or another. The problem is, the deeper meaning is never really elaborated on.

The Dark And The Wicked Horror Movie Review

A diary is used to provide some degree of exposition. The mother’s words hint that something evil has invaded the house. The sense of tension builds only for it to evaporate. There is no pay off here. We never really learn more about what is happening. Plot elements are introduced without any real desire to build on them. The ultimate conclusion of the film is unsatisfying in its reality.

It really amounts to little more than set piece after set piece. Almost like a collection of horror concepts brought together with the loosest framework. Sure, the atmosphere keeps the viewer unsettled. It doesn’t manage to distract from the fact that there just isn’t much to work with here, though. The movie gets bogged down by its need to constantly scare the viewer. The once intriguing premise suddenly feels like a frail setup full of plot holes.

Excellent Acting

Acting is fantastic. Marlin Ireland, as Louise, is particularly noteworthy. Michael Abbot is similarly decent as Louise’s brother, Michael. A couple of the roles here do feel a little hammy. There’s no real way you can play a creepy priest without it coming off a little comical. The same goes for another, similarly, creepy role. Still, this is a well acted film.

The Dark And The Wicked Horror Movie Review

Direction and cinematography are decent. This is a dark and brooding film, well supported by the camerawork. Shots are nicely set up to keep you watching the background. Locations are dark and imposing. Some of the scares are well set up. There is some unnerving imagery here. It maintains its tense atmosphere almost throughout.

Is it a Knockout?

I understand why people might enjoy this movie. It is slow, brooding, and full of atmosphere. I feel as though it could easily get under certain viewer's skin. Fans of Hereditary should love it. I have tried to reflect this in my score. For me, however, I just didn't really enjoy it.

The plot is paper thin and features leaps of logic. The scares quickly become routine and tiresome. Overuse of jump scares numbs you and the poorly formed story leaves you wanting. I felt as though I was watching a collection of set pieces loosely tied together. Fantastic acting and excellent mood building bear mention. Some will love this film. For me, however, it just didn't work.

Support Us: