Review – The Wretched (2019) : Fantasia International Film Festival!

by Vincent Leblanc

My only film on Day 9 of the Fantasia International Film Festival was the World Premiere of the US horror film The Wretched. The film is part of the Cheval Noir Competition, “Fantasia’s flagship juried competition, a global selection of varied genre works from new and established, groundbreaking and unconventional auteurs.”

The Wretched was written and directed by brothers Brett and Drew Pierce (fun fact of the day: their dad, Bart Pierce, worked on the photographic and other special effects on the original The Evil Dead set). The Wretched stars John-Paul Howard, Jamison Jones, Piper Curda, Kevin Bigley, Zarah Mahler, Azie Tesfai and Madelynn Stuenkel.

The Pierce Brothers were invited to the stage by the Fantasia host. They said they were very happy to be there and were glad to see so many people attending. They talked a little bit about the film and said they would be back after the screening for a Q&A with many people from the cast and crew.


If you’re finding out about The Wretched just now, here’s what it is about (copied from the Fantasia website):

“Distressed by his parents’ forthcoming divorce and hoping to clear his head, 17-year-old Ben visits his father for the summer. He quickly becomes aware of horrific happenings taking place on his street. A centuries-old evil is terrorizing the young family next door. Stemming from the nearby woods, and soon residing in the very skin of the mother, it begins preying upon the local children. Ben tries to get help. No one believes him. If he wants to save the town, he’ll somehow have to go at it alone. Meanwhile, off in the woods, voices are calling out to people from the base of an ancient, rotting tree…”

I had a really good time with The Wretched. It mixes comedy, drama, and horror pretty well. It doesn’t reinvent anything, but it was well done, and had a great atmosphere. Like me, you might be able to compare some events or situations of this film to classics of the 80’s or 90’s. Still, The Wretched has its own original story with an interesting folkloric touch of evil. There are some rules about it that I didn’t quite grasp on this first watch though. There’s even a sneaky little twist at one point that caught me off guard. To be honest, I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it, even 6 days after seeing the film. I discussed it with friends and we shared ideas. It helped but I’ll have to see the movie again to understand what I missed. 

Technically speaking, the film is well shot and has some pretty cool practical effects and gore. The score and sound effects also helped get into the film.

I wasn’t familiar with any of them but I enjoyed all the cast of this film. 

The brothers/writers/directors said during the Q&A that the film was completed just two weeks before the screening and that it is seeking distribution. It will most likely continue its tour of movie festivals in the meantime. Hopefully, you can see it someday and I also can see that twist again.

I’ll give The Wretched a 3.75 out of 5 Hairpieces!


Here’s a trailer. I’d say it’s a risk to watch it because it shows some of the good bits of the film. 

#Fantasia2019 #FantasiaFest #TheWretched

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