7.75 / 10
John-Paul Howard as Ben
Piper Curda as Mallory
Jamison Jones as Liam
Azie Tesfai as Sara
Zarah Mahler as Abbie
Kevin Bigley as Ty
Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden as JJ
Richard Ellis as Gage
Blane Crockarell as Dillon
Ja’layah Washington as Lily
Co-author / co-director of Brett and Drew Pierce
The Wretched Review:
The horror genre is a brilliant area to explore everything from real problems like divorce as a teenager to immersion in the wide variety of folklore that the United States is based on, but the problem with many genre excursions is that they tend to focus on the same handful of evil spirits instead of looking for a unique perspective. But in IFC Midnight’s recent horror effort, The miserableThe audience is treated with what feels like the first truly unique unit in years.
After the separation of his parents, a rebellious teenager, Ben, is sent to his father for the summer to work in the local marina and gain discipline. However, the idyllic tourist town offers him little comfort as he is forced to deal with the local, privileged teenagers and his father’s new girlfriend. Ben’s problems become more and more worrying as he makes a terrifying discovery about the family that rents the house next door. A vicious ghost from the forest has seized the parents and starts playing a scary game of the house, chasing the children and wiping every trace of their existence. Ben’s suspicion of the supernatural horrors goes unheeded and he starts a dangerous crusade to end the reign of terror of the skin-walking witch.
After her debut in the 2011 zombie comedy Dead heads, Brett and Drew Pierce decide to tell the story more seriously The miserable and for most of the film it works because there is a somber atmosphere throughout the whole thing, even if you don’t focus on the more scary elements of the film. Although Ben doesn’t examine his reallocatable characters as deeply as possible, namely Ben’s struggles with his family, which may be divorced, and his father move on so quickly afterwards, the writing at least helps the audience put themselves in their shoes and get involved to connect them. We learn to put ourselves in Ben’s shoes and situation, including his teenage troubles when he tries to fit in and crave for the hot, popular girl while having a more emotional crush on the sweet and sarcastic Mallory.
While his characters may not feel as refreshing or well-developed, the film really shines when he sees them face the mysterious and malicious dark ghost lurking in the forest chasing the region’s children. From the initial teasing of a tree with eerie whispers that comes out of its hollow base just to make it disappear a moment later, to the literal darkening of the characters what the creature looks like, the Pierces brilliantly build the tension in a way that feels more and more creepy as events escalate.
One of the most fascinating elements of the mind is the way it hunts and the effects it has on its adult and adolescent victims. The concept of losing a friend, a love interest, or a family member to a scary being is horrible enough, but the idea that we could lose people we don’t know exist because the creature has the power feeding on the forgotten is terrible. To see that Ben’s realization that one of his neighbors has completely forgotten his own son, who suspected the existence of the spirit, is a real eye-opening moment.
As Ben and his fellows learn more about the entity and find that more people are being removed from existence than they initially think, the film feels more like general audience-friendly genre efforts such as: Strange things or Night of terrorBut thanks to his relatively interesting characters and even more fascinating villain, the tension builds up slowly and keeps the audience’s attention firmly under control. Not to mention, the closer certain characters get to the entity, the more terrifying the movie becomes with solid visual and practical effects that are fondly remembered The thing and The exorcist.
A total of, The miserable There may not be enough focus on his unique and refreshing entity rooted in American folklore, nor will he develop his characters in a real or interesting way, but thanks to a moody and tense atmosphere and some terrifying images, this remains a damn fun ride from the beginning to the end.