The Dark and the Wicked is a horror film that was written & directed by Bryan Bertino, releasing in 2020. Michael and Louise are distant siblings who return to their family farm to mourn the impending death of their father. He lays comatose after being struck down with an unknown affliction. Their mother believes that there are darker forces at work and wishes for them to leave.
It becomes apparent that the mother is communicating with some kind of entity. After once again telling Michael to leave, she cuts off her fingers and hangs herself in a barn. As time goes on, Louise and Michael start to understand what happened to their mother. The nurse who takes care of their father confides in them that she heard her whispering to the father. However, it seemed as if she was speaking not to him but some other presence. Michael finds their mother’s diary, which describes her fears of an unnamed presence trying to take the soul of her husband. The presence makes itself known to the siblings in increasingly terrifying and deadly ways. Ultimately, it pushes Michael to attempt suicide after he flees the house without Louise.
What will they do?
The Dark and the Wicked doesn’t present anything particularly original. I feel like I’ve seen a thousand horror films about demonic entities plaguing households. Still, it’s a good entry into the sub-genre. Firstly, the performances are very strong. Secondly, there are a couple of moments that are genuinely creepy. Particularly the moments in which the deceased mother haunts the siblings. Also, there’s a decent amount of gore. The finger chopping scene is nasty and there’s a moment involving some knitting needles that will stick with me.
Be warned, this film can certainly be accurately described as a slow-burn. Another thing, Michael & Louise could have been developed better. It would have been nice to see some flashbacks or something. Possibly to a time when they had been closer. Something that showed why they felt such strong ties to the house and their father. Unfortunately, we learn little which makes it hard to care too much about their survival. The film wants to portray them as regular people which is fine just not that interesting.
I felt a bit frustrated with Michael & Louise over with the way they persist in staying at the farm. They are repeatedly warned and told to leave and they don’t. It couldn’t have been clearer. I didn’t understand why the stayed to the point that they do. I get not wanting to leave their dying father, which makes sense. However, they do attempt to get him hospitalized only to be told that the journey would kill him. Regardless, he and they staying at the farm means almost certain death. I feel they should have taken their chances with his health and dumped him outside a random hospital. It may have at least been worth a shot. In a lot of ways this is a moot point because we do learn that leaving the property is no way to escape the demon.
Overall, The Dark and the Wicked doesn’t deliver anything new or ground-breaking. Still, there’s some standout moments and highly quality acting that help it become a solid horror film with flaws.
The Dark and the Wicked
The Final Score - 6/10