Last year (prior to the Great Blog Crash of 2012), I reviewed an excellent fantasy movie directed by Peter Winther titled DRAGON AGE: REDEMPTION. This year, Winther shifted gears and decided to take us on a trip into horror territory with THE WICKED. Yes, this is a story about a witch, but there are no green-faced Wizard of Oz tropes here; this witch eats children LITERALLY to stay alive. The result is an effective and chilling jaunt into terror.
If you are not familiar with THE WICKED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Image Entertainment website:
Local stories warn that deep in the woods, a witch with a ravenous hunger feeds on the flesh of the young. In an abandoned house in the woods, she hunts her victims…and if you try to enter, you’ll never see daylight again. When another child goes missing, a group of local teenagers decide to find out if the urban legend is true. What starts out as a meaningless dare turns into a blood-spattered fight for survival against a mistress of darkness in this unrelenting nightmare from which you may never wake up!
This film is not perfect, but it will scare the hell out of you. From the opening scene to the rolling of the credits, I squirmed in my seat as the events unfolded onscreen. The premise of an entity needing children to survive strikes me at the core because I’m a dad, but I think it touches everyone on a primal level. This is part of the reason the movie is so effective as a horror film.
THE WICKED is shot well and the premise is well executed. I would have loved to have seen this on Blu-ray, as some of the shots were grainy but they get the job done well enough. The acting is very good, with the main cast doing a great job, however nine-year old Caitlin Carmichael steals the show with a bone-chilling performance as kidnapped youngster Amanda. I have to tell you: the opening scenes with her abduction by the witch gave me chills. She is a beautiful young actress with a lot of talent, and I expect she will have an amazing career in Hollywood.
The film is not perfect, though, with a couple of major sticking points for me. First off, there is potential for an amazing amount of gore, although we only get to see a little bit. The witch likes to grind her victims up in a human-sized meat grinder but all we get to see is some computer-animated blood (which doesn’t look very good) and a few handfuls of the resulting carnage coming out of the other end. Not much to clap about.
Also, I don’t like how the witch is shown on the DVD cover of THE WICKED. For me, that dampens the suspense. The creature/witch/entity/bad guy should never be revealed until a key time in the film itself. This doesn’t ruin the movie by any means, but it would have been much more effective to wait.
Still, THE WICKED is a heck of a horror film and it’s one to definitely check out. The film hits store shelves next week, so make a note to give it a look.