Starring Megan Massie, Spencer Korcz, Riker Hill
Directed by Brian Cunningham
Ah, those kooky kids and their psychedelic drugs…one fateful trip into the woods and you’ve either got a group of seriously f**ked up kids by the morning or worse off, a film that struggles to keep its feet firmly planted. Allow me to introduce Brian Cunningham’s Wretch, a film that could potentially surprise you in more ways than one.
The plot of this one is simple enough – hell, so simple even I could follow it! Just kidding (somewhat) – we’re introduced to a trio of friends: Caleb (Korcz), Abby (Massie) and Riker (Hill). Their interests are also of the simplistic variety – sex, drugs and the two combined in the heat of a kick-ass party. You see Abby’s in love with her fella Caleb, and then there’s the third cranky wheel of Riker – the guy’s so friggin’ moody he could bring down a circus clown on happy pills. In addition, Caleb’s the kind of guy who can’t seem to get enough face time in front of the camera, all the while offering up his (ahem) “services” to a bevy of gals behind Abby’s back – in other words, a true shitbag no matter how you slice it. What makes this dynamic even harder to stomach is that Caleb’s got a strong, despotic grip over Abby – even the slightest conversation between she and Riker is met with contemptible eyes – great friends, huh?
Alright, enough of the “Dawson’s Creek” crap – let’s get into some horrific situations. The three decide that it would be in their best regards to camp WAY out in the woods and partake in some unnamed snort-able powder – smart choices, indeed. What follows is an amnesiac kind of duration for the triad, and only after do they make their way back home do the real nightmares start to settle in. The toll that has been taken on this group of three is either from the drugs that they ingested, or some supernatural force in the darkened woods, and we’re provided some semblance of clues by numerous flashbacks to that dreaded night. I immediately had a bit of a negative reaction to this film as soon as the first few minutes began to roll – the usage of the “found footage” format had me reaching for the anti-nausea medication, but the plan was scrapped after a short time and I was transported back into the land of the steady-cam shot. It’s described as an “anti found-footage film” and that was completely okay with me – kudos to Cunningham for mixing it up in an effective fashion as it helped with the film’s story progression.
Performances by the cast, while new in nature are surprisingly worth the effort to invest in, and I could go on and on with the Blair Witch comparisons like so many before me have chose to go, but it’s just not fair to put this up against one of horror’s most surprising presentations over the last 20 years. This one should have a shot to shine on it’s own and I’d be best pressed to leave the verdict to the only ones that matter – the viewers themselves. Overall Wretch does deliver on some legit scares and tension-filled moments, and while some purists might have an issue with a conclusion that seemingly takes a calendar year to arrive to, but it’s got one of those thought-provoking endings that can open up multiple discussions for interpretation. I’d recommend this as a one-timer, if nothing else to get a mild case of the willies.