She Told You Not To Come: The Dark and the Wicked (2020) - Reviewed

photo courtesy RLJE films

In a time that's been full of personal darkness and pain that has challenged the sanity for most of the global community, a new vision in horror takes the prize as one of the best of the year and a great return to form for writer/director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers, The Monster, producer of The Blackcoat's Daughter).

When a brother and sister return home to help their ailing father and their emotionally drained mother, all hell begins to break loose and blood is spilled at a frenzied pace. The resulting plot drags us through a story of malevolent evil that wants to tear through anything it comes in contact with, including the flesh of its victims, both human and animal. 

Latching on to some of the folk trends that have been a huge part of the genre the last five years, Bertino offers a great amalgamation of tropes that seems to bring his resume to a full head. Coming back to his love for home invasion films (The Strangers), this one tells of a more sinister, paranormal intruder that wants nothing more than to shred everything it comes in contact with. 

photo courtesy RLJE Films 

Rounding back to the core elements of his chosen genre, his latest film is a reminder that what lies in the shadows is often times more dreadful than serial slashers or CGI based franchise cinematic trash. With a bare bones budget and a great folk-like tale about a farm ravaged by a nefarious presence, this brooding piece of film work returns us to the basest level of the horrific, all the while keeping its malicious invader as a hidden menace that's never really answered for. And this in itself leaves the movie open for a continuation. 

The Dark and the Wicked feels like something stripped out of the late '70s or '80s, long before we were so fatigued by masked killers, found footage, and repetitive ghost stories. There's this dusty, film grain quality to the project that perfectly renders the farmland setting, all the while giving us this perfectly balanced feeling of dread that just lingers heavily over the top of the film. Not only do the actors inhabit these roles with great performances but the editing and sound are pitch perfect. Unlike so many other movies that have attempted this type of story, The Dark and the Wicked works on a psychological plane that most don't. The familial connection and the interplay between brother and sister feels real. They adore each other. And their love for their parents gives the audience something to empathize with. 

Bertino brings us back full circle by reinvigorating indie horror with the elements that seem to be missing from so many film entries these days. Catapulting us directly into a farm that's been cursed by an unknown force, we're immediately forced to face a grim reality. There is no escaping the darkness that's been unleashed. At every turn, death awaits. The Dark and the Wicked knows no bounds. 

This is one of the purest domestic horror films of 2020 and could do what The Taking of Deborah Logan and Starry Eyes did back in 2014. It rallies around our fears of loss and hope then forcefully sticks us in the side with with a cold dose of blood searing pain. Then it repeats itself over and over again by never letting up on atramentous atmosphere, practical visual effects, and demonic visuals that are infinitely horrific. If you're a horror purist, this is one you do not want to miss.