26th Apr2018

‘Pyewacket’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere, James McGowan, Bianca Melchior | Written and Directed by Adam MacDonald


The unusual title wasn’t the only reason I have been interested in watching Pyewacket for a while now. Everything I have read about the movie on social media, from people I trust the opinion of, has been positive, so I was very much looking forward to it.

The best horror movies, in fact the best movies, create characters and relationships that you care about, relate to and want to watch unfold. Pyewacket does all of this. The main relationship is between Leah, played by Nicole Munoz, and her mother, played by Laurie Holden. Like many mother/daughter relationships it is a very love/hate one. After the death of their father and husband, both women are dealing with the situation in different ways. Leah is listening to angry black metal and reading about the occult, while Mrs. Reyes is desperately trying to keep things together and wanting to move on. And when she announces to her daughter that they will be moving away to start a fresh (as well as insulting her in a heated argument), her daughter runs into the nearby forest and performs an occult ritual to evoke a witch to kill her mother.

Writing that down, it does sound a little bit silly but this scene and the film as a whole isn’t like that at all, it’s a very serious horror movie. The whole cast are really enjoyable, with Munoz and Chloe Rose the pick of the performances. Munoz as Leah is the main focus of he film and, despite playing an angst-ridden teenager, doesn’t come across half as annoying as you might expect that character to be. Her acting is believable and she is at her best in the most tension-filled scenes. Rose plays her best friend Janice. Another character that could easily have been very unlikeable but is not due to the good writing and a good performance from Rose. One scene in particular when Janice is at her most terrified, brings out the best in Rose.

The musical score is fantastic too, reminiscent of some genre classics – unnerving throughout, adding tension at just the right time and helping with every single scare. Director Adam MacDonald’s last feature, Backcountry also had a memorable score, so it’s clearly something he pays a lot of attention to. MacDonald is undoubtedly a very talented director. Backcountry was one of my favourite films of 2015, a violent, thrilling and realistic bear movie, I couldn’t wait to see what he did next. As if to prove his talent, Pyewacket is a completely different sub-genre and style of movie but almost equally as impressive. Like the best horrors, you don’t actually see much in Pyewacket when it comes to the evil that is haunting the characters. But when we do see things, they are as frightening as you would hope.The final fifteen minutes or so move from pit-of-your-stomach scares to downright terrifying to unbearable tension and climaxing in a horribly brutal way. It’s a near perfect way to end the film.

Backcountry and Pyewacket are an interesting, and excellent, couple of features to come from the same director – especially given these are his two first movies. Like Get Out, The Babadook and several other modern classics before it, Pyewacket shows the importance of creating a realistic and meaningful relationships between characters to make life experiences even scarier.

**** 4/5

Pyewacket is out now on DVD and Digital from Signature Entertainment.


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