Review by Sean Boelman
Written and directed by Brett and Drew T. Pierce, The Wretched is the type of old-school horror flick that isn’t seen enough today. Offering both a compelling coming-of-age arc and some legitimate thrills, this is the type of entertaining genre film that fans are clamoring for in this time of theater shutdowns.
The movie follows a young man whose life begins to fall apart when he suspects and accuses his next door neighbor of being a witch involved with the disappearances of several local children. For the most part, the film hits the beats of the “boy who cried wolf” arc without much deviation, but it is what the filmmakers do with those tropes that makes it worth watching.
The Pierces blend this admittedly by-the-book setup with a charming summer love story to provide a thriller that is surprisingly enjoyable to watch, even if the direction in which the narrative is heading is clear. A big part of what makes the movie work so well is that the protagonist is very well-written, and although the film’s subplot about divorce isn’t fully fleshed out, enough is there for it to have an emotional impact.
Additionally, the actors all do a really solid job. John-Paul Howard plays the lead and he is charming enough to allow the more lighthearted elements of the story to work. And while the romantic subplot of the movie often feels more like an afterthought, the chemistry that Howard has with Piper Curda is admirable.
Since the film’s plot is a tad on the predictable side, the stakes aren’t as high as one would like. Still, because viewers will be legitimately invested in the emotional arc of the movie, it’s easy to buy into the pacing. Clocking in at just over an hour and a half long, this film is just the right length for a B-horror movie.
Of course, most audiences will come to this movie hoping to be scared, and while it is far from terrifying, it’s definitely creepy, and there are some really intense moments. Apart from a few instances, the Pierces don’t rely on jump scares, instead building atmosphere in a much more earned and effective way.
However, it is on a technical level that the film impresses the most. Especially given the relatively low budget, the effects are pretty great. The movie looks significantly better than the average horror flick that is made for millions more than this, and it is because the filmmakers really knew how to harness the roots of the genre.
The Wretched is a fun, old-school horror movie that will provide plenty of amusement for an hour and a half. It feels like something that would be perfect to watch at a drive-in theater, and that’s great, because at a few locations around the country, that’s actually an option.
The Wretched hits VOD on May 1.