Friday, May 1, 2020

Home Is For 'The Wretched'

Don't come any closer without a mask!

These days, it's hard not to view all entertainment through the lens of the world's current situation. The indie horror flick The Wretched presents both a nostalgic view of summers spent outside with *gasp* other people, and a current worst case scenario of just what might be happening in that neighbor's house you can't stop spying into because there's nothing else to do.

While the story starts with an effective flashback featuring a 1980's babysitter who really shouldn't go into that basement, the rest of the film takes place in modern-day Michigan, in an active resort town. Teenage Ben (John-Paul Howard) is in town for the summer, staying with his newly separated father (Jamison Jones), and working at his boating dock and rental business at the marina.

Ben befriends a fellow dock worker named Mallory (Piper Curda), after she initially hazes him for the obvious nepotism that got him his job. Why else would a teenage boy with a broken arm get a job that requires a lot of lifting? How Ben got that broken arm is one of the key facts the film doles out slowly. We're not sure we can trust him, just as he's not sure he can trust that seemingly hipster couple with two children who live next door.

At first his curiosity is piqued because the couple is youngish, the mom is hot, and they like to make out with their curtains open. But after one of the children hides out in Ben's house, terrified to go home, Ben starts to notice weird noises coming from their basement, and that mom sure isn't very friendly anymore...

There are shades of The Blair Witch Project (creepy stick figures and scary woods), and Fright Night (spooky neighbors no one else believes are spooky), in the film, but I especially enjoyed how director brothers Brett and Drew Pierce amp up the audible creeps, with creaking bones, and whispers in the dark. It's also gorgeously shot; the brothers are from Michigan and you can tell they both and know and love the beauty that can be found in their state. It may have you longing for warm summer nights outside, while appreciating the comfort and safety of your current shelter.

The Wretched is now available via most VOD platforms.

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