The Reel Review
Despite a warning from their mother not to come, adult siblings return to their parents’ farm in a remote, rural part of Texas to say goodbye to their bedridden, dying father. There, they start to experience a series of unexplained events, and uncover a disturbing diary that leads them to wonder if an evil spirit is trying to claim their souls.
Writer/director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) delivers a visually compelling, stylishly dark, supernatural horror, complimented by a chilling score and a stark setting that deftly captures the psychological challenges of being so physically and emotionally isolated. Is there truly a demon terrorizing the duo? Or are their minds, wracked with guilt over not being around for their parents in recent years, just imagining it?
For a low budget film, the production is well done. The slow moving story starts off well enough, with a series of disturbing moments to draw viewers in. And Marin Ireland (Hell or High Water) really sells the emotional fragility of her character. But around the halfway mark, the increasingly gruesome frights start to feel repetitive, sparking the realization that there really isn’t much story here – just a lot of unsettling moments in a bleak setting.
• The Dark and the Wicked was filmed at writer/director Bryan Bertolo’s family farm in Texas.
• The Dark and the Wicked was scheduled to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2020, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Ella Balantine (L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables), who plays the young girl towards the end of the film, also stars in Bryan Bertino’s 2015 horror film, The Monster.