Have you ever come to a new place and was immediately greeted by the sounds of animals as soon as you set foot there? I ever. Eve immediately felt heavy (an hour later the shooting stopped because one of the crew was in a trance, but this is a story for another day). The phenomenon is said to indicate the awesomeness of a place. Best Movie Site
The Dark and the Wicked was opened by a similar situation. A farm at night, dogs howl, goats bleat, and a woman named Virginia (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) looks worried, while her husband, David (Michael Zagst), lies sick. Clearly, there’s something dark and wicked there.
Some time later, despite being banned, Virginia’s two children, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) came, knowing that David’s condition had worsened. During the week there, Louise and Michael slowly began to realize that their father was not sick, and why his mother forbade them to come. Of course this realization came too late.
Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, from all sides, The Dark and the Wicked is actually built on formulaic foundations. The story of psychic degradation due to interference by evil forces, who knows how many thousand times we have encountered it in horror films. Likewise, Bertino’s tactics in spreading terror. Interestingly, regarding terror, how Bertino handles clichés is actually the main advantage of this film. Movie Review
Bertino always has a way of giving a twist, tricking the audience’s expectations, so that when a terror appears, the effect is multiplied. This understanding of expectations is the reason why his jump scare, which positions quality over quantity, tends to be effective. The amount is not too much, nor does it always have to be noisy, but it almost always hits the heart.
For example, when Virginia sliced carrots. Experience tells that there will be a cut finger. But just as I prepared to grimace at the painful sight of blood, it seemed that Bertino didn’t need a graphic depiction to produce the same effect. It’s enough to suddenly slip a different instrument in the middle of the atmospheric scoring accompaniment. Bertino caught me off-guard with that one.
Accompanying the slow tempo, sound system plus music made by Tom Schraeder support the gripping feel that the director wants. Bertino wanted to make a really scary horror (read: not just shock the audience), and it worked. The Dark and the Wicked appears unsettling, taking advantage of the audience’s anxiety about the horrors that can emerge from every corner of the farm. Since we never really know the person who spreads terror (in line with the belief “the devil can take any form”), the anxiety is multiplied.
Going back, Bertino’s innovations are somewhat reduced, but his presentation remains solid. The sound system is still strong, the visuals are still creepy, some jump scares also work well. The real problem is the writing. On an exploration of how guilt and fear destroy humans. Even though it dominates the duration, the narrative is thin, uninteresting, and fails to provoke concern for the characters, which until the end we never really know. They are still strangers.
Starting his career through The Strangers (2008), as well as writing the script for its sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018), it is not surprising when Bertino again breathes the smell of nihilism. That human existence is meaningless. That no matter how hard we try, no matter how religious we are, in the end humans remain helpless before the forces of evil. Top Movie