Monday, June 10, 2024

Wild Eyed and Wicked: Folk Horror and a Fencer

They could use more monster-slayers in the horror genre, but aside from Van Helsing, you mostly find them in fantasy. Lily Pierce will try to fix that, combining her mother’s interest in medievalism with her fencing skills. Unfortunately, her neurotic, self-defeating nature might still be her Achilles heel in screenwriter-director Gordon Shoemaker Foxwood’s Wild Eyed and Wicked, which releases tomorrow on VOD.

Pierce witnessed her mother Silvia’s suicide as a child and she has yet to recover. It also frayed her relationship with her father, who dealt by not dealing with anything. The reason it so torments her is because she thought she felt a presence influencing her mother. Since then, she has a nagging feeling something haunts her too. Consequently, she kept people at arm’s length. Only her new, boring girlfriend Willow has gotten her relax her guard to any extent. Of course, Pierce does not want her around when she revisits the scene of the crime: her old family farm.

Although her father Gregory is stuck in denial, Pierce can feel the presence. Sometimes she even sees it, in visions or lurking in the shadows. She intends to face it, using the medieval techniques laid out in her mother’s books and that broadsword.

First of all,
Wild Eyed and Wicked gets credit from a former fencer for using the right terminology. It is a foil (or a sabre or an epee), not a sword. It really annoying when a supposed fencer makes this fundamental mistake, as in the Embrace of the Vampire remake.

Beyond that, the fusion horror and traditional fantasy elements is intriguing. This film is built on the foundation of a promising concept: Pierce’s suspicion the family line has been has been tormented by a demonic parasite since medieval times (which might be why the immigrated from Ireland, way back when). Essentially, it is folk horror with roots that date back to

Unfortunately, the ever-so-deliberate pacing drains out a lot of the tension and fear. The atmosphere is certainly heavy with dread, but it cannot overcome all the whiny Gen Z angst from Pierce and Willow.

It is a shame, because Michael X. Sommers is terrific as Papa Pierce, in a weird and wrinkly Stephen McHattie kind of way. It is also nice to see Colleen Camp pop up as Pierce’s online shrink (who obviously is terrible at her job). Molly Kunz is a real asset to 
The Irrational, but her moody lead performance as Pierce is off-target.

Thanks to Foxwood and cinematographer Mateus Bastos (with some supplemental lensing from Eyal Bau Cohen),
Wild Eyed has a distinctive dark, woodsy folk horror vibe, but it might be too much of a good thing. Most horror fans will want less foreboding and more real-deal menace. Still, it might be a misfire, but it is an interesting misfire. You start to appreciate that when you see multiple new horror movies every week. Not quite recommended, but viewers are not strongly discouraged from trying Wild Eyed and Wicked when it releases tomorrow (611) on VOD.