THE WICKED (2013)
Dir. Peter Winther 100 mins
UK Release: 10th June 2013
Witches, a horror staple over the 1960s and 1970s with iconic films like Witchfinder General have become a bit passé of late, save for the odd DTV gem like Tamara, so it was with a little bit of intrigue that I approached ‘The Wicked’.
We begin with a young girl called Amanda who is listening to her mother tell her a bedtime story about ‘The Wicked’. It’s a story that has been passed down through generations in the small town of Summerset, and for the most part it’s been an innocuous tale. That’s all set to change though, because as soon as her mother leaves the room Amanda is abducted.
As the story advances a few days, and the camera drifts through a town with ‘missing’ posters on telegraph poles pleading for information about Amanda, we meet Zach (Justin Deeley) who is attending the funeral of his grandfather, a prominent local historian. At the wake, his friends Carter (Chase Maser), Tracy (Jackelyn Gauci) and Julie (Jess Adams) are bugging Zach to go camping that night over at Open Hearth – the legendary home of the town witch. Local tomboy Sammy (Diana Hopper) overhears this plan and goes straight back to her friend Max (Devon Werkheiser), who also happens to be Zach’s brother, to tell him.
With the boys father out of town that night, they have both been instructed to remain at home – so as expected they seek to disobey that order, albeit without telling each other what their plans are. Zach and his crew travel to Open Hearth by road, leaving the car a distance away as no roads go near the supernatural destination. Max and Sammy meanwhile are covertly following on bike, taking a shortcut across the countryside. As Zach and his friends approach Open Hearth we discover it to be a slightly dilapidated old building, set very much in solitude and surrounded by an eerie mist.
Legend has it that when you get to Open Hearth you must throw a stone at it. If it hits the wall you’re safe, but if it smashes a window then ‘The Wicked’ will be after you. Naturally its only moments before we hear the sound of breaking glass, and the gang think they see the shadow of something crossing one of the rooms. It appears as though this legend may have a little credibility, but after discounting what they see, the group remain ignorant of just what they’ve awoken, and also of the danger that the approaching Max and Sammy may now be walking into.
What follows could be defined as the usual ‘teens in peril’ fare. However, with the added intrigue of finding Amanda’s (the missing girl) teddy close by to the witches house, ‘The Wicked’ develops into something more sinister than expected. I also really like the development of some of the characters – especially Max and Sammy for example. They were given solid, though out backstories that didn’t comply with the predictable horror clichés. For example, Max is the quiet, sensitive, introverted type while Sammy wouldn’t be out of place as a stand-in for Mary Stuart Masterson in ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’.
I would say though that reducing it down to about 85 minutes would have made the denouement a little tighter, but on the whole I found it to be a solid indie horror, well worth an impulse purchase or a DVD rental.
6 out of 10