The contemporary dictionary definitions of wretch: “an unfortunate or unhappy person” and “a despicable or contemptible person.” While an exploration of either meaning fill volumes of viable stories, these parallel descriptions have been simultaneously applied to one film, exploring the duality through a preternatural scenario involving three unwitting friends and their adverse effects on one another. Wretch is a mess – a twisting tangle of plot threads and contrivances that all borderline brilliance or settle into disappointing mediocrity.
Riker (Riker Hill), Caleb (Spencer Korcz), and Abby (Megan Massie) are three young adults who coexist in a rather intensive and toxic friendship—regularly getting under each other’s skin. During a drug-fueled trip to the woods, something goes awry, and Abby insists on having seen something dark and dangerous in the shadowed forest. As time goes on, as the friendship is torn asunder with their collective guilt and jealousy plaguing their every interaction, a supernatural presence haunts their minds. As they fall further to paranoia and fear, the true natures of each are revealed and amplified.
“as the friendship is torn asunder with their collective guilt…a supernatural presence haunts their minds.”
Wretch falls into (what I call) The Reaping class of films – a movie that is hellishly vague and intensely convoluted to near incomprehension, while managing to recoup and bring all its elements back together at its finish, resulting in a satisfying conclusion. Brian Cunningham’s screenplay is scattershot with sharp and nuanced plot elements and well-built twists that manage to keep the experience elevated. However, there also exists throngs of cheap dialogue and nonsensical action; all swirled up in tired and uninspired genre cliches. The characters constantly interact in a propulsionless manner, with the plot meandering about before eventually reaching a point where something can finally happen. The extreme unevenness is directly reflected in the acting prowess of the cast, which resides on a similar sliding scale of quality.
“…scattershot with sharp and nuanced plot elements and well-built twists…”