Thursday, June 7, 2018

[Review] Wildling

Wildling is an intriguing but bafflingly uneven psychological terror flick that scratches and gnaws, thriving on a killer performance from Bel Powley as the film's central outcast.

It revolves around Anna (Powley), a teenager who grew up confined to a bunker in the woods by her creepy father (played by Brad Dourif). It's safe to say she's pretty messed up, and we follow her as she adjusts to the outside world and temporarily stays with the local cop that discovered her (played by Liv Tyler, who's wonderful here - it's also her first film appearance in four years). All the while, Anna believes she's being stalked by a "Wildling" that eats children.

Aside from its disturbing opening sequence, the film is lighter on horror early on and heavier on the fish out of water (or girl out of forest) antics -- which is pretty interesting in and of itself. Bev Powley (who was great as the main character in 2016's Diary of a Teenage Girl) convincingly exhibits a strange, wide-eyed naivety, which actually turns out to be slightly comical. But eventually this thing ramps up with bloody scares and definitely brings the wildness promised in the title. The cinematography evokes some sublime visuals with its deep, forest-y and majestically moon-lit imagery. There are also a couple of big plot turns, which double our sympathy for Anna.

Unfortunately, the film itself seems to have an identity crisis toward its third act, especially as it throws in a questionable romance story, crooked cops, and subplots that feel more like filler than worthy threads to what the film's premise initially established. It's like it can't decide whether it wants to stay grounded in reality or go for more supernatural, urban legend-like elements.

Things get even more and more ridiculous and off-putting as it goes, and by the end I began to check out. Wildling loses itself in the woods.

( 6/10 )

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