Review: “The Dark and the Wicked” (2020)


Micah Sanders, Staff Reporter/Writer

The Dark and the Wicked ★★★☆☆

Starring: Marin Ireland, Ella Ballentine, Xander Berkeley, Tom Nowicki

Lowdown: A daughter returns home to aid her ill father but begins to suspect a very evil presence.

MPAA rating: Not rated

Where to watch: Google Play, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube

Verdict: Classic horror movie with tons of jump scares. However, the plot needed more work done to it. 

Director and writer Bryan Bertino, famously known for “The Strangers” series and “The Monster,” conjures up a very suspenseful and atmospheric film that will glue audience members to their seats. Not only does the movie have disturbing and hair raising scenes, but it also has very important messages weaved throughout the entirety of the movie. 

“The Umbrella Academy” actress, Marin Ireland, stars as Louise Straker, who returns home to Texas to care for her very ill and bedridden father (Michael Zagst). Alongside Louise coming back home is her brother Michael (Michael Abott Jr.), as they both are very concerned about the well-being of their father. Once they arrive, they are greeted by their very distorted and mentally drained mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone). She tells them that they shouldn’t have come numerous times and both Michael and Louise denounce that statement by demanding to stay. Well, after the mother warned them to leave, things started to take a very dark turn. Supernatural elements and figures started to appear and the entire house structure and dynamic is flipped upside down. 

“The Dark and the Wicked” was released Nov. 6 through video demand and premier streaming services. 

The film starts off very slow and the first jump scare is not introduced until the first hour mark. The plot is shown to the audience on a day-by-day basis with an overall seven day journey. As each day progresses, the deeper and darker the movie dives. Adding the timeline effect really makes the suspense of the movie even more drastic and frightening. The inspiration for this effect can be seen in the movie, “The Shining,” which is a classic and historical horror movie. With the addition of superb acting by both Ireland and Abott Jr., the jump scares are some of the most freakish and insane elements of the movie. Many audience members may be staying up after watching the film. 

Being in a rural farmhouse with loads of land surrounding them, the setting of the movie also adds a great deal of mystery and hallucinations to the main characters of Louise and Michael. As the movie progresses and the jump scares are presented, they meet a priest (Xander Berkeley) who helped their mother spiritually while going through the hard times of taking care of their father. They are confused as to why their mother looked to a priest for help when the entire family is atheist. The priest played a very crucial part in the plot by introducing new concepts to the audience and clearing up some of the unknown supernatural issues that Louise and Michael faced. 

With the dark lighting, dramatic close-up shots and the grotesque soundtrack, the film did a great job of portraying the typical horror aspects you expect to see in a horror movie.

The overall plot of the movie felt scatterbrained. There were so many inconsistencies on where the actual storyline was heading and by the conclusion of the movie, the audience will be left with many questions and concerns ambiguously unanswered. This may be due to the fact that Bertino is known for intentionally leaving his movies unresolved. In the majority of his previous directed films such as “The Strangers” and “The Strangers: Prey at Night,” almost all of them leave the audience disappointed by the ending. However, since the movie is categorized as a horror film, the unresolved resolutions somewhat play in his favor because everything cannot have a happy ending, which Bertino does a great job at doing.

Despite the film’s flaws, “The Dark and the Wicked” is filled with a wickedly talented cast and is a great movie to watch during the Halloween season.