At first, Wretch plays like a slightly less lo-fi Blair Witch Project (color, b*tches!), what with it following three friends heading into the woods.
The pattern is familiar, but the motivation is completely different – what was meant to be a night of smoking some primo product and having some fun turns into something completely different.
Caleb (Spencer Korcz), his girlfriend Abby (Megan Massie) and their friend Riker (Riker Hill) have different experiences in the woods – Caleb gets so wasted he passes out and sleeps through the night, while Abby and Riker go for a walk in the woods.
When Caleb wakes up, he finds them having a serious conversation just out of earshot.
Following the overnight in the woods, Abby begins having nightmares. She’s had nightmares before, but these take place in those woods – and before long she can’t always perceive what’s real and what’s not.
Riker admits to having similar nightmares with one ominous difference…
Written by director Brian Cunningham, from a story by him and Janel Nash, Wretch begins as a slow burn introduction to its three principal characters before more moving more deliberately into possibly psychological – then possibly supernatural – horror.
An interesting variation on the usual horror movie cast of characters, Caleb, Abby and Riker seem to always be some degree of angry. They take incidents that shouldn’t mean anything and blow them up before they even have any idea why they’re angry – and when they do know…
Caleb, it should be mentioned, has an internet channel (YouTube is scrupulously never mentioned by name) and as things begin to get really weird, he asks his subscribers for help. (You don’t see much of that sort of thing in the average horror movie – it’s a nice touch.)
Then there’s the repeated image of ‘a spiral with a line through it.’
Each time it appears, it seems more and more menacing.
By the time we flash back to Riker and Abby talking in the woods, we’re prepared for something weird/scary/strange, but what we get is nothing we could have expected.
Another cool moment comes when we discover that Caleb is not what we’ve come to believe his is – a revelation that takes the film to another level and kind of darkness. It also leads to more intriguing variations before ramping up for the film’s finale.
Sure, there’s a certain amount of sex and violence, but they’re not exploitative.
Wretch is a classic example of how a really good horror movie doesn’t need a lot of money or showy effects – good writing, a solid cast, a smart director, an appropriate score (here, by Joe Stockton) and editing for pace are really all you need.
Final Grade: A-