DVD Review – The Wretched (2019)

Ben (John-Paul Howard) is the child of an impending divorce. His dad, Liam (Jamison Jones) has moved out and got a new girlfriend, Sara (Azie Tesfai) and so while his parents try and see whether their marriage is worth saving, that is where Ben is spending the summer. To get out of the house, Ben gets a job and that’s where he meets Mallory (Piper Curda) and sooner or later Ben ends up doing the things that teenagers usually do. Things such as drinking outdoors next to huge bonfires and skinny dipping to get the attention of the hot girl he likes. However, things turn sour when Ben starts to suspect that the woman next door, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) is really a witch who’s taken over her body and that her son may be in danger.

The Wretched is a throwback horror movie which may remind its audience of movies in years gone by thanks to its nostalgic inflections. The set up for the film may seem rather familiar to some as teenagers of divorced parents were often a theme back then, but the loving homages to the kinds of things that teenagers usually do in these kinds of movies soon come out in spades. A cliché or homage if you were never invited to an outdoor drinking party anyway. However, it’s not only that, but the premise has been done before in other such 80’s classics and Ben’s dad even gives him a bike which is clearly a nod to E.T. or even Stranger Things for those audience members who don’t remember the 80’s.

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Although the tone of The Wretched is far more serious than those films that it tries to nostalgically evoke, there are still some good moments, but the real horror does take its time. The cast all play well even though their characters never go far beyond their archetypal cliches, but it makes The Wretched a rather feel good and familiar watch. The final confrontations with the witch also have some great moments of body horror and some impressive practical effects which again throwback to the movies that didn’t have to rely so much on CGI to impress its audience. All in all, The Wretched is a fun horror littered with influences of a more light-hearted time and right now that may not be so bad.

Horror | USA, 2019 | 18 | DVD |13th July 2020 (UK) | Vertigo Releasing | Dir: Brett Pierce & Drew T. Pierce | John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai