Returning home to care for an elderly parent can often be a heartbreaking and stressful situation. However, as its title suggests, The Dark and the Wicked takes this idea and runs with it into disturbing territory.
Not only is it incredibly unsettling to watch, but it also begs the question, is it the houses that are haunted or the people living in them?
Michael and Louise return to their family farmhouse to care for their parents and it’s immediately apparent that this isn’t exactly a healthy family relationship.
The film brilliantly demonstrates this by showing how tense and distant everyone in the family is rather than delve into the details of their family’s past drama.
Initially it just seems that their mother is long gone mentally as she does things like chop off her own fingers when cutting carrots.
However, following her death, the very same “visions” and “hallucinations” that she experienced begin to plague Michael and Louise. Now they’re forced to confront the chilling idea that maybe their mother wasn’t crazy after all.
Surreal in nature, and unyielding in pace, the scares never let up. They include a barrage of dead bodies all over the field, as well as an unwelcome spirit spying in the shower.
There’s not really an “aha” moment where everything is laid out and explained (though it’s hinted at), and the movie really works better this way.
We’re all in the dark, just like Michael and Louise, and it makes for a more immersive experience. The farmhouse itself provides a sense of isolation, making the characters (and audience) feel cut off from the rest of the world.
While it’s definitely creepy and unsettling throughout, it also doesn’t really do enough unique to particularly stand out the same way that Insidious, Sinister, or The Conjuring did. It’s certainly well made, and its direct/straightforward approach works in some ways. But it may struggle to be remembered as a result.
What did you think of The Dark and the Wicked? Let us know in the comments!
The Dark and the Wicked is streaming exclusively on Shudder