09th Jun2013

‘The Wicked’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Devon Werkheiser, Nicole Forester, Caitlin Carmichael, Justin Deeley, Cassie Keller | Written by Michael Vickerman | Directed by Peter Winther

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“Season of the Equinox, the witch besets her kill; one less soul in the town to know, taken against their will.”

A urban legend that nearly every child in the small town of Summerset has heard; a story passed down from generation to generation that offers just enough chills to keep the legend alive. However it seems the legend may be rooted in truth as seven year old Amanda Drake is swiped from her bedroom window. Always up for a good fright, 18 year old Zach and his friends decide to sneak into the woods and find the mysterious “Open Hearth”, the old house in the woods that once belonged to the witch. Unbeknown to Zach, his younger brother Max and his girlfriend Sammy sneak along. They all soon discover that folklore isn’t always myth and that bedtime stories can sometimes come true…

We’ve had werewolves, we’ve had vampires and now the current trend of Hollywood is the mining of fairy tales for story inspiration – on television and the likes of Grimm and Once Upon a Time and in the cinema with films such a Jack the Giant Slayer and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Yet as with many filmic trends it’s the low-budget filmmakers that have really run with the idea, producing numerous straight-to-DVD titles with varying degrees of quality. One of the biggest DTV trends has been witches, many adapting the story of Hansel and Gretel. So far this year I’ve already reviewed the god-awful Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft and the less-than-stellar stoner horror-comedy Hansel & Gretel Get Baked and now comes my third “witch-bitch” film of 2013, The Wicked.

Somewhat of a slow-burner, The Wicked is a very deliberately paced film that, for once, takes its time in developing its characters before unleashing its horrors upon them; and like a lot of 80s horror, the film also throws in a coming-of-age subplot between two of its characters, Max and Sammy. It’s something that is rarely seen in a lot of modern terror tales – usually the characters are mere fodder to be killed in a by the numbers fashion; and despite it being somewhat of a cliche back in the day, here the coming-of-age plot feels fresh and new. It also helps that both of its young characters are easily the most likeable of the cast too.

There are some problems with The Wicked however, including some ridiculously profane comedy cops who would rather drop f-bombs than do their jobs and who, in typical horror film cliche, don’t believe the teenagers when they say there’s a monster; and, sadly, some terrible CG-enhanced blood which, given its appearance in the film, could easily (and I mean easily) have been replaced by practical effects. The film also runs a little long at 100 minutes, spending too much time in the latter third on the typical chase/escape scenario.

A prime example of a middle-of-the-road horror film, The Wicked isn’t going to win any awards or make any “best of” lists but at the same time it is a decently made and well-paced movie that is at least worth one viewing.

The Wicked is released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 10th, courtesy of 101 Films.

*** 3/5

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