The Wretched, Brett and Drew T. Pierce's new horror film, features a creature seldom explored in horror. The killer tree-spirit is not a well represented evil force and so there is an air of freshness to this scrappy but accomplished horror film. The film has a teen horror vibe similar to some 80's gems such as The Lost Boys and Hell Night. The lack of stars in the film and our current quarantine mean the film is destined to VOD but the film is good enough to have had a theatrical run.
Seventeen-year-old Ben (John-Paul Howard) takes his summer vacation with his dad Liam (Jamison Jones) at a lakeside resort. Ben has been troubled since his parents got separated. He arrives with a broken arm due to some mild criminal activity and is there to keep out of trouble. Since this is a horror film, trouble is going to find him. Ben is resistant to his dad's new girlfriend Sara (Azie Tespai) and quickly gains some enemies with some rich brats. He also meets Mallory (Piper Curda) while working at the Marina. Mallory is a no nonsense breath of fresh air from the elitist crowd.
Ben's focus soon shifts to the next door neighbors. Abby and her son Dillon are shown hiking in the woods when they attract an evil wraith that follows them home. The family's baby soon vanishes and Abby is soon possessed. Ben is the only one that seems to notice, even when Dillon goes missing. People seem to forget that he even existed, one of the creatures apparent powers. Ben tries to alert others but is dimissed, partly due to his recent behavior. Mallory is the only one who gives him some credit and they soon go snooping.
One of the best things about The Wretched is its brisk pacing. The film never slows down enough to be put under scrutiny. The plot isn't terribly original but the film is polished. The creature effects and design are impressive, generally feeling original. The filmmakers are smart about their budget restraints and often lean more towards unseen terror and suggestions to create suspense. There is also some nice humor mixed in along the way. The Wretched only packs a few scares but they are effective and the film is always engaging. The cast is very likable as well. Horror fans and casual genre watchers will find plenty to enjoy here.