Sad and tired people see bizarre or frightening things only to not see them again a second later, repeat–if you couldn’t tell I didn’t exactly find The Dark and the Wicked to be riveting stuff. The first 15 minutes or so effectively establish the dark, dreary atmosphere with somber performances from Marin Ireland and Michael Abbot Jr to match so I was on board for a while. It soon became clear, though, that creepy misery porn was the name of the game and that’s just nothing that I find worth my time.

What’s “misery porn,” you say? In the same way as Eli Roth’s Hostel movies or the endless Saw sequels are known as torture porn since they largely deal in finding ways for a random bunch to be held against their will while graphically dismembered in whatever outlandish method I find something like The Dark and the Wicked to be a misery-based cousin (cough Hereditary cough). Everyone you meet in the film is miserable from square one, their misery only compounds with each passing minute, and then they die in some deeply unpleasant/prolonged way.

I’ll quickly summarize the plot of The Dark and the Wicked before continuing, but it will only take a moment. A sister (Marin Ireland) and brother (Michael Abbott Jr.) return to their small town farm home to be with their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) while their father (Michael Zagst) slowly dies in bed. Something sinister seems to be growing amongst them as they’re plagued by nightmares and can’t make sense of what fresh hell they’re living…

When a film’s only setting is bleak misery at a certain point I can’t help but laugh at the actors’ crying frowny faces as they wail at the heavens, and The Dark and the Wicked is absolutely one of those movies. I find it odd how in film/TV misery so often automatically equals depth, pathos, and dramatic weight as if someone dripping sadness is inherently more meaningful than other emotions. 

Marin Ireland did a good job, and all, as did the rest of the cast, plus as far as cinematography and score and all those technical aspects of filmmaking go I’d say The Dark and the Wicked was a success. The problem for me is the script’s failure to put any meat on these bones plus several of the developments were eye-roll inducing. For one, please retire the lame trope of an ominous priest who cryptically portends impending plot developments. I don’t know who to speak to about this, Movie Industry (I address you as a whole), but stop–it’s just awful and a complete joke by now in damn near 2021.

Also, on the same note, I’m pretty over how religion is handled for the most part in horror films. Either they’re a tacit endorsement of a particular religion (invoke Jesus/Allah/insert god here to defeat the demon otherwise you’re screwed) or on the rare occasion a character’s actually atheist or somehow godless you bet it’s a matter of time before they’re proven wrong. I understand it might be harder to write movies if simply saying “it was ghosts!” or “god did it!” is off the table, but if Scooby Doo managed to accomplish it at the end of every episode 50 years ago I’m confident a screenwriter could manage the same now–fingers crossed for 2021.

Anyway, based on the review consensus I’m clearly in the minority so if you’re tempted to give The Dark and the Wicked a chance then do so. Just make sure you’re in the mood for a joyless 90 minutes of misery porn!

 

5 out of 10 Wails at the Heavens

 

The Dark and the Wicked
RATING: NR
Runtime: 1 Hr. 35 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By: Bryan Bertino

 

About the Author: Adem Cohen

Adem lives with his husband, dog(s), & cat(s) in an Arizonian city where any time not spent with/on the previously mentioned creatures is filled with writing, rowing, baking, and whatever else the day brings.
By Published On: January 7, 2021Categories: Movies, Reviews0 Comments
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