As a longtime fan of horror, I’m always on the lookout for some good nighttime scares. I especially like to find surprise hits – those that don’t have big-budget trailers all over TV and the internet, and that often go largely unnoticed. Thus, while combing the webs a few nights ago I came across Wretch.
The trailer was interesting, and the synopsis equally as such:
“In an attempt to piece together fractured memories of a drug-fueled night in the woods, three friends confront guilt, jealousy, and a supernatural presence that threatens to expose their true natures.”
Only, that’s not entirely how this movie plays out. The opening scene has promise – one of the lead characters, Abby, is found next to a shed in a friend’s backyard in the middle of the night, letting out a creepy giggle with her mouth covered in blood. My initial thought was that this is going to be a movie that starts at the end, with the rest of the movie building up to that climatic moment. Not new or innovative, but still a potentially good way to start a horror flick. But then the flaws with this film begin.
The biggest of which starts with the next sequence: Abby is at a party and we have a first-person view from her boyfriend Caleb’s camera (we are initially encouraged to believe that Caleb has an active online channel, but more on that in a bit) as he is encouraging her to make out with their mutual friend Kara. This leads to pill-popping, then Abby and Caleb are off to bed, and we are left with Kara and angst-filled Riker. But wait – Caleb returns, and it’s Kara and Caleb who end up “hooking up” instead, which angers Riker.
The problem with this is that it is one of far too many over the top sex scenes. Not that I’m saying movies should be devoid of such scenes, but at times it’s hard to tell if this movie is trying to be a horror movie or a soft core porn. From flash backs that Abby has regarding her and Caleb’s sex life, to her and Riker, and the discovery by her that Caleb’s online “channel” is nothing more than a homemade porn site featuring him and various other girls, including videos of her and him. Sure, the writers are trying to illustrate the flaws of character that the demon in the story is feeding on, but repeated over-the-top gratuitous sex scenes come across as frivolous ways to illustrate that Caleb is a cheating sleazeball.
The story itself is written in a very disjointed fashion which gives it the feel of someone who had started writing a story, took a month long vacation, then came back to it and forgot where they left off. At first, it’s as though the movie wants you to believe that a demon just slowly crept into their lives because of their debauchery. Then there is a shift (too suddenly) to Abby possibly being mentally ill or possessed. This shift plays for a long time throughout, but then comes the “3 friends getting high in the woods” sequence that the movie’s advertising premise is set on. Did they stumble upon and disturb something there? Was it because of the semi-rape that occurs between Abby and Riker? The movie actually does answer this as “all of the above” by the time it reaches the end.
Throw in a few characters who are talked about as being important but never seen, a few “try to be creepy zoom in on windows with someone standing in them at night” scenes, and a miscellaneous swirly red symbol reminiscent of the likes of The Blair Witch Project (by the way, this movie is part regular film and part “lost footage”), what you ultimately end up with here is a movie that is not so much horror as it is a film school project. There were a few elements in the story that, if properly highlighted, could have possibly made this a worth-while flick. But the disjointed story line killed any hope of that.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s ultimately about cannibalism?