After a year passes since the sudden death of a child, a family gathering takes place whilst peculiar unexplainable events occur
The Wicked Within, one of After Dark’s “8 Films to Die For” 2015, is a possession-based horror that starts off really strong but then sprawls into a generic possession film with oddly acting characters and a limp twist.
Using the death of a child and the unimaginable grief that would conjure at its core, The Wicked Within hits the ground running with a police psychologist (Eric Roberts) trying to discern truth from lie of the events that transpired the night before at a dinner party at the grieving parents’ house a year after the tragic event.
Invited to the dinner party is the oppressive mother of the wife who means well but can’t shut the f**k up, the sister, Bethany (played by the very capable Sienna Guillory) who had/has a drug habit and is known to be a drama queen, her husband who has a secret and the wife’s work colleague, Maggie.
At first people suspect that Bethany is up to her usual tricks or possibly relapsing when she begins collapsing and acting strangely, but when Maggie’s psychic friend comes around to perform some mumbo jumbo, the guests realise that a sinister entity has attached itself to Bethany and its motives are most sinister.
As any good demon would, it plays on the minds of the morally culpable guests and soon secrets of murder, neglect, lust and hate are revealed and no one is safe from the demon’s evil intent and mind trickery. Not even the local priest who is called to try and exorcise the demon is safe from his own secret desires.
As the police psychologist hears the recollections of the surviving guests, the demon’s true intent and identity is revealed in a pretty flaccid twist that has a moral warning to tell.
The Wicked Within started real strong. The conflict amongst the characters at the dinner party was well written, believable and enthralling to witness. When the entity first makes its appearance, it too was genuinely intriguing and I couldn’t wait to see what would transpire. Unfortunately this is where the film lost me as it fell victim to tropes and a generic story that is typical to possession horrors.
All actors gave solid performances and were believable in their respective roles. Sienna had to run the emotional gamut of a possessed character and handled it well. Cinematography was solid also, with nice clean shots that were clear and conveyed what they needed. Sound and effects were also solid, my only gripe being the head spin around effect which was handled via a slow-down CGI tactic that just felt weird to watch.
Ultimately I think there was a real lack of tension and thrill once the possession plot of the film kicked into gear. People’s desires and secrets were revealed and played out pretty flatly, dulling the effect the story was trying to conjure.
Still, to the writer and director’s credit, this low budget, essentially one locale affair was a good effort that sits up there with some of the films the Blumhouse juggernaut churns out, even surpassing some of them.
Would I watch this again? No. There isn’t anything in The Wicked Within wanting to make me revisit it though the first act was extremely solid.
Should you watch this? Give it a shot. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but if you’re a fan of possession films, you should find this entertaining, though don’t expect Exorcist level possession shenanigans.
2.5 out of 5 Eric Roberts