Review: IFC Midnight's 'The Wretched'


Madelyn Stunenkel as “The Wretch” in Brett and Drew Pierce’s THE WRETCHED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight.

By Roxy Tart


THE WRETCHED is a fun idea, backed with some awesome effects, mixed with some seriously creepy images; but unfortunately, it’s also a story full of holes and plot lines that have little to no payoff.

John-Paul Howard as “Ben” THE WRETCHED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight.

We start out “35 years ago” and from the toys and the clothes we can assume it’s the 1980’s. A poor babysitter comes across our Witch eating a toddler, and things don’t go well for her from there. It’s not really a big deal though, because these people are never brought up again, and have nothing to do with the story. Fast forward to “5 days ago” and our leading man Ben (John-Paul Howard) is on a bus heading to his dad’s house. Turns out he got into a bit of trouble at his mom’s, so it’s a summer living and working with dad Liam (Jamison Jones) to hopefully help straighten him out.

Piper Curda as “Mallory” in THE WRETCHED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight

He soon meets his friend / romantic interest / sidekick, Mallory (Piper Curda) and a few local rich kids who bully him, for no reason other than a new kid should be bullied? I guess. Like the 1980’s flashback and few other plot points, there’s no reason or payoff for the bullies, they just…are.

Azie Tesfai as “Sara” in THE WRETCHED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight.

Our first clue that something’s not quite right in this small, coastal town is when Ben’s neighbor is out hiking with her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). Dillion hears his mom’s voice calling him…and it leads him to an incredibly spooky tree that then disappears. On the way home they apparently hit a deer, mom decides to gut it, messes up…and we get our first real glimpse of the Witch, who I guess hitched a ride back to town inside the deer. She breaks out, heads to the house, and proceeds to terrorize the family, but not before Ben notices something strange is happening.

John-Paul Howard as “Ben” in THE WRETCHED. Courtesy of IFC Midnight.

At this point, a whole lot happens, but not a lot gets explained. Ben does some research on the Witch, and she’s a skin walker of some sort. It would have been really cool to dive into the history and lore here, but we only get a glimpse. We also aren’t sure what her powers are. She’s a skin walker, but also has mind control, and can make you forget, but is maybe restricted by the totems she keeps nearby, but she also has a magic tree…where she keeps kids she’s gonna eat…and she can make a new wardrobe appear at will…I guess..I’m honestly not sure on any of these details.

THE WRETCHED is a really pretty movie to watch, with some killer cinematography and practical effects, and while it starts really strong on the creepy shock factor with a child being eaten in the first two minutes, it slows down and kind of loses itself in the middle. But it’s an easy watch, and something that would be great to have on in the background at a Halloween party when you’re looking for something fun and light.