Nothing good ever comes from spying on the neighbors. Just ask Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.
With nods to both the Hitchcock classic and more recent fare like Fright Night, The Wretched delivers familiar frights amidst familial turbulence, as a troubled teen suspects the lady next door of being a 1,000-year-old witch.
Budding juvenile delinquent Ben (John-Paul Howard) gets shipped off to a sleepy Great Lakes resort town for the summer, where he works for his dad (Jamison Jones) at the marina.
Like Stewart’s photographer, he wears a cast (arm instead of leg).
During a brief interlude when he isn’t brooding, Ben notices that the family next door seems to have a fluctuating number of children, and that the hot mom (Zarah Mahler) is prone to nocturnal ramblings.
Written and directed by the Pierce Brothers, The Wretched covers a lot of well-traveled territory, particularly the nostalgic coming-of-age adventure ala Spielberg or Stranger Things.
It also speaks to the fragility of the family unit, and about how kids without that stabilizing spiritual force in their lives are vulnerable to … enchantment?
Not to mention the possibility of being consumed and forgotten by the outside world. Now that’s scary!
In the Dark Mother, we get a horrifying and ghoulish creature/villain, and I fervently wish the Pierces had given us a bit more backstory, but perhaps that’s coming in the next movie.
I confess to my uncertainty of a sequel, but I’m taking this opportunity to wish it into existence, because we all need something to look forward to.