Bryan Bertino’s The Dark And The Wicked is a horror film which is constructed from creepy atmosphere and and honest of emotion. A family drama enshrouded in a dark cloak, Bertino’s film is an intelligent horror which is as much about the loss of parents as it is about anything else.
With their father slowly dying, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) return to their elderly parents farm to be with him during his final days. Their mother isn’t happy that they’ve arrived and she keeps telling them that they shouldn’t have come. We’re not quite sure why, but there’s something dark and wicked lurking around the rural homestead.
A slow evolving film, The Dark And The Wicked shares similar DNA to Natalie Erika James’ 2020 Australian horror film, Relic. Both films use the supernatural as a way of illustrating our inner fears of family and loss. Bertino’s film takes a look at how we perceive our parents and how these perceptions change over time as we grow from being children to adults. It’s about returning to the family home and seeing it in a different light – nothing shifts perspective quite like the passing of time.
The Dark And The Wicked is a slow burning piece which carefully heightens its tension as it evolves. Bertino makes great use the isolated farm setting and he incorporates some powerful imagery and genuine scares into the dramatic beats. The performances from Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr are strong and you understand their moral dilemmas and fears as the film progresses.
A well crafted and intelligent horror film, this is a strong and powerful slice of genre cinema which gets deep under the skin. Bryan Bertino’s The Dark And The Wicked has a lot of layers and because of this it will resonate and stay with you.
The blu-ray of The Dark And The Wicked comes with a 35 minute Fantasia Q&A with Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott. Both actors go into great detail about the film – it’s a very insightful piece.