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The Wicked

Director: Peter Winther
Cast: Devon Werkheiser, Justin Deeley, Jess Adams, Jaime Kaler

(US DVD: 30 Apr 2013)

The Wicked is a low, low, low budget horror film that makes The Blair Witch Project look like a Michael Bay production.


The film opens with a young girl, Amanda, confessing to her mother that she and a friend accompanied some older kids to a ramshackle house in the woods, the supposed residence of a witch known only as “the wicked” (Cassie Keller). Local legend states that if someone throws a rock and breaks one of the windows, the vandal will be devoured by the witch. Cassie’s mother scolds her, but assures her that the house in question has been searched thoroughly on multiple occasions and no witch as ever been found; that it’s just a story someone told to scare little girls.


Any horror movie connoisseur knows that despite the reassurances of a loving parent, there’s something sinister hiding in the closet or under the bed and there are such things as monsters, ghosts and witches. So when mommy flips the light off and shuts the door, little Cassie is sucked out the window just as Carol Anne from Poltergeist was ingested by her closet, only with much lower quality special effects.


The Wicked pays homage or “borrows from” many horror films, and in this case even from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, minus the Hansel. Even though The Wicked is mostly comprised of the standard scary movie gimmicks and clichés, it only manages to muster up a few minor chills. The cast, for the most part, look as if they might have all had minor roles on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Deely did enjoy a guest stint on 90210. The only other recognizable face is that of stoner police officer Deputy Carl played by Jamie Kaler from TBS’s original comedy My Boys.


As local law enforcement searches for the missing girl and her mother puts up posters all over town, two teenage brothers Zach (Justin Deely) and Max (Devon Werkheiser) are dealing with the death of their grandfather. Max was close to his grandfather, a magician/witch hunter/historian, and is now in the midst of some existential crisis regarding the finality of death. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last long, this movie isn’t that deep. His brother has completed the seven stages of grief in no time and is planning a camping trip with his best friend Carter (Chase Maser) and Carter’s slutty girlfriend Tracy (Jackelyn Gauci). Zach’s hoping to get lucky with the new girl in town, Julie (Jess Adams).


The only thing standing in his way is his father, who will be at work all night. Since there’s a possible child molester/kidnapper on the loose, dad wants Zach to stay home with his brother.


Zach’s BFF, Sammy (Diana Hopper), is the town rebel and social outcast. We know this because she dresses like a tomboy, has a drunk for a mother, is poor and is on the wrong side of one Deputy Carl. Sammy obviously considers the deputy impotent in terms of authority, since she tells him that she’s not sure what smells worse; his breath or his ass. This raises the question at what point Sammy took a good, long whiff of the man’s behind.


Sammy overhears Zach and his friends planning their excursion to “Open Hearth” the name of the witch’s abode, like Tara or Southfork. Sammy thinks it would be a kick to follow Zach and his friends and catch them on film in a compromising position. Something like Zach groping the Megan Fox look-a-like new girl instead of babysitting his brother. Initially not interested, Max changes his mind when Zach ditches him after guaranteeing his brother’s silence by threatening to divulge an intimate secret.


Everybody heads off into the woods, skeptical of any malevolent forces and free of parental supervision. The Wicked is pieced together from the best or most tolerable parts of movies like The Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th , A Nightmare on Elm Street, House of Wax (2005) and Urban Legend to name a few. Unfortunately, the end result resembles Dr. Frankenstein’s monster-it works in theory but not in practice.


Watching The Wicked is similar to experiencing déjà vu. The girls are either no strangers to the act of coitus or are sexually aggressive. It’s obvious almost from the outset who’s going to die and who will survive. The local police are incompetent, there’s indecipherable creepy whispering and people wandering off alone in the dark. The one girl who has her cell phone can’t get any reception.


The Wicked doesn’t completely lack originality but it does lack consistency. Even though town legend dictates the witch only eats vandals, it turns out to be more of a guideline than an actual rule. She kills indiscriminately, any poor sucker who stumbles across her path. She likes to wrap her tastier victims in a cocoon like a spider and even puts apples in their mouths making them resemble pigs at a luau.


The Wicked, in what can only be an attempt to satisfy fans of films like Saw and Hostel, does briefly abandon its more supernatural storyline in favor of pure gore. You’ll never look at raw ground beef the same way again.


Many celebrities have gotten their start in horror movies: Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Demi Moore just to name a few. But it would be surprising to see any of the “stars” of The Wicked in anything other than straight to DVD films, Lifetime movies, or walk-on TV roles in the future. Aside from screaming, which they all do pretty well, they all act as if they are performing in a satire of a horror film.


Even though The Wicked DVD is so low rent that it doesn’t even offer the option of closed captioning, the packaging promises one special feature entitled “No Soul is Safe: The Making of The Wicked”. The creative force behind the film must have realized the futility of including the featurette because it is nowhere to be found; nothing at the end of the film or after the credits roll, zip on the flip side, no additional disc or booklet included separately. This sloppy oversight is the most memorable aspect of the film.

Rating:

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook currently writes reviews/recaps for "PopMatters,""TVFiends" and "BuddyTV" and its affiliates.


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