Fantasia International Film Festival: The Dark and the Wicked (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

The Dark and the Wicked (2020) is a horror film that will stick with you after the credits roll. Writer and director Bryan Bertino develops an ominous tone early on – and once it sinks its teeth into your psyche, it doesn’t let go. There are arresting visuals and performances that sell the fear of those images present. Not every horror film achieves what it sets out to do, but this film feels like it mostly does.

Louise (Marin Ireland) and her brother Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) return home to help their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) take care of their sick and dying father (Michael Zagst). The illness seems to take on some supernatural qualities, and the longer that Louise and Michael are there – despite their mother constantly saying she told them not to come – the more apparent it is that something is not right. 

Ireland and Abbott are awesome in this movie. There are so many moments of pure horror, and their reactions really help to sell the atmosphere. At one point, they discover that some of the livestock has been horrendously killed. Just the visual alone is enough to push the tension up a few notches – but the reactions that Ireland and Abbott deliver only help to cement it in the audience. 

That look of the film as a whole also helps to escalate the feeling of dread.: an isolated farm that gets very dark with a rustic wooden interior as the sunsets. The barn with a makeshift alarm to help protect the goats from predators which unsettle the nerves when it rattles. The attention to detail that goes into the production of this film only helps to escalate it as the story pushes forward to the hardest part for many movies to land…the finale. Fortunately, this movie ends in a way that delivers on its premise, and one can leave satisfied. 

The Dark and the Wicked isn’t just a clever name. This film has both in large quantities and makes for another solid family-themed horror movie to come out of 2020. If you are looking for a dark film with supernatural elements that will potentially scare you, then check this one out. The Dark and the Wicked earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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