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The Dark and the Wicked is a nastily effective, lo-fi, psychological haunted house horror about a malevolent force that takes up residence in a remote Texas farmhouse (shot at director Bryan Bertino’s family home). There is possibly not a single scary moment here that will be new to horror fans, but Bertino directs with such technical flair that I yelped at most of them – and half-missed the others, eyes squeezed tight shut.
Louise (Marin Ireland) is on a visit back to the farm where her bedridden dad (Michael Zagst) is dying. Her brother, Michael (Michael Abbott Jr), is here too, a hulking lunk in a lumberjack shirt who seems emotionally avoidant, rarely making eye contact. Everything about the farm feels creepy as hell: the sheep bleating in the barn, homemade wind chimes rattling. The land itself has a forsaken feel, abandoned by the younger generation.
Refreshingly, Bertino’s emotionally literate script gives the family very real dynamics. Drinking beer on the porch one evening, the siblings experience a stab of guilt, realising how long it’s been since they last visited. What’s strange is that their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) isn’t exactly welcoming. “I told you not to come,” she hisses. In her diary, she’s been writing about a diabolical force taking over the house.
The first gruesome scare involves the mother chopping carrots with a very large knife. Worse is to come from the evil presence (named the Wicked in the credits), who the audience sees in the shadows in a couple of blood-run-cold “he’s behind you” moments. Wisely, Bertino exercises restraint, not revealing too much about the Wicked. But that does leave his script open to the accusation of narrative thinness – and with the bodies piling up, you’d expect a cop or two to come sniffing around.
Source: The Guardian
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