AW Kautzer's Film Review Fantasia Film Fest Film

The Dark and The Wicked – Fantasia Film Festival 2020

The Dark & The Wicked

Writer-Director Bryan Bertino’s Rural Horror film lives up to its title as something dark and very wicked. 

Death comes for us all.  In the hands of Bryan Bertino, it takes shape of something foreboding and unstoppable.  Something that seeps into every corner of your life until there is nothing left but the solitary darkness of the enviable.  

Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbot Jr) are summoned to their family’s secluded farm.  Their father only has days left until his passing.  The siblings are not welcomed with open arms by their mother.  They are heeded a warning they never should have come back.  There is something lurking, stalking their father and mother.  Something sinister.  Something no one can articulate.  As the days pass Louise and Michael become very sure that something is after their father and after them.  Death comes for us all but this is something altogether different.  

The Dark and The Wicked is the kind of personal horror film that gets under your skin for days after your initial viewing.  Bertino’s script is heart-achingly personal.  The director wrote the script on his family’s farm and shot the film there too.  There is an authenticity, a lived-in quality, that comes through every frame of the film.  The moments between the siblings as they speak feel deeply intimate.  Conversations about death and the loneliness of a family member passing on goes beyond what we come to expect from the genre.

Methodical but never slow, the film expertly scares and shakes an audience with true scenes of dread and tension.  Something as normal as preparing a meal becomes horrifying in Bertino’s hands.  The director understands that it is just as much the every day as it is the larger scale moments that effectively scares an audience.  A conversation with a priest about a loved one’s passing.  Watching over an animal to ensure its safety through the night.  These things are oftentimes scare in it of themselves but Bertino’s script adds a layer as the siblings are dealing with something otherworldly.  

The Dark and the Wicked delights in throwing one off balance like its protagonists. The knowledge and dread that there is nothing that can be done to stop it.  Like death, there is an inevitability and true bleakness to everything in the film and the credo that death comes for us all. Bertino has created something truly special with The Dark and The Wicked.  An uncompromised piece of intimate horror.

The Dark and the Wicked is playing Fantasia August 29th and will be making its way to Shudder this fall.

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