Frightfest Glasgow Film Review – Pyewacket (2017)

Leah is an angsty teen who lashes out against her grief and emotional alienation by summoning an impish familiar to punish her despondent mother. Instantly regretting her sinister dabblings she must defend her family and preserve her own sanity against a resourcefully manipulative spirit adversary.

Pyewacket is a concisely executed, deceptively simple horror drama that explores some relatively deep themes whilst building up a tangible atmosphere of dread. Relying on believable characterisations to paint a credible picture of mental sufferance the film also has a varied palette of subtle cinematic tricks at its disposal to heighten the tension.

The score by Lee Malia of Bring Me The Horizon fame is a highly accomplished piece of work providing a dark undercoat of anxiety that allows the intense sound design and cleverly naturalistic jump-scares to flourish.

Cinematography duties are handled by Christian Bielz who also shot Adam Macdonald’s woefully underrated killer bear flick Backcountry. Bielz uses his unfussy aesthetic to grand effect lending clarity to the impending doom and a gorgeous washed out haze to the unfolding ambiguity.

The acting is solid with plausible dialogue and Nicole Muñoz imbues the role of Leah with just the right levels of impulsive vulnerability and ballsy resilience to garner empathy. She responds well to the director’s intense style of character ontogeny and understands his commitment to realism.

To the film’s credit, the screenplay is uncluttered by superfluous exposition with a backloaded slow burn structure that is certain to grind the gears of quick-fix horror fans everywhere. Though be assured, in this case, something definitely does “come at night” and it is genuinely unsettling.

Pyewacket succeeds in creating a mood of bubbling menace by way of handheld intimacy and a less is more attitude that swerves the Machiavellian and embraces cinematic verity. As a result, the film is able to throw up some potent perspectives on rash decision making and the externalisation of anger. That said, for a pungent horror drama, it is a surprisingly easy watch as we become inexorably enveloped in an economically generated microcosm of existential despair.

Adam Macdonald is a sincere and enthusiastically talented director that genre fans should keep their grisly eyes on. Pyewacket forms the second part of a female-centric survivalist trilogy that will culminate in the cabin based thriller The Wolf at the Door.

Honest in its intentions and consistent in tonality Pyewacket exudes confidence in its ability to disturb. With a refreshingly compact agenda and a truly blistering denouement, this classy little horror film will delight its target audience.

Bradley Hadcroft |[rating=4]

Occult Drama | Canada, 2017 | 87 mins | – Strong violence | Seville International |DVD. UK 23rd April 2018 | USA 23rd March 2018 (Internet) | Dir. Adam Macdonald | Cast. Nicole MuñozLaurie HoldenChloe Rose

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