Old School Horror

by Nav Qateel

Premise: After a year passes since the sudden death of a child, a family gathering takes place whilst peculiar unexplainable events occur. Tension over peculiar circumstances cracks the veneer of cordiality and dark secrets emerge. Bethany (Sienna Guillory) becomes increasingly unhinged and seems Hell bent on tearing her family apart. Is she possessed or simply playing Devil’s advocate? With the help of a priest and a psychic the family attempts to restore peace and sanity. But events which occur that night could never have been foreseen. Police psychologist Dr Woods (Eric Roberts) tries to exact fact from fiction of what really took place in the house in this gothic horror morality tale.

Jay Alaimo’s The Wicked Within, penned by Stephen Wallis, is the sort of old school scarer that utilizes familiar horror-movie tropes and practical effects that remain appealing even by today’s CGI-heavy standards. The story is built around that favorite of horror film, grief. Last year saw Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook use the subject of grief to such devastating effect, and while The Wicked Within doesn’t reach the lofty heights of that critical hit, it certainly has a go.

The Wicked Within
Directed by
Jay Alaimo
Sienna Guillory, Gianni Capaldi, Enzo Cilenti, Eric Roberts
Release Date
16 October 2015
Nav’s Grade: C+

The film opens on a woman being rushed to hospital, and where we first meet Bethany (Sienna Guillory). How she came to be hospitalized is just one of several mysteries that need to be solved by police psychologist Dr Woods (Eric Roberts). We go back a couple of days to a small gathering of family and friends. What starts out as a seemingly pleasant evening of smalltalk, good food and wine, ends with a possessed Bethany tied to a chair and all the friends being forced to confess their many sins, leaving each of them devastated.

Sienna Guillory gives a memorable performance playing Bethany, as she goes through the entire emotional and verbal gamut of the demonically possessed, minus any head-spinning I hasten to add. In fact, it would be fair of me to say that most of the movie is carried on the talented actress’s shoulders. Playing opposite Guillory as Bethany’s husband Luke is Gianni Capaldi, an actor who has been steadily building up a solid list of movie credits. Capaldi easily handles playing the concerned husband. Enzo Cilenti and Michele Hicks play Michael and Hannah, parents that lost their child the previous year. Cilenti and Hicks both do a wonderful job with their characters, providing subtle, convincing performances. Enzo Cilenti can currently be seen in the Matt Damon hit The Martian.

Technically, The Wicked Within is more than adequate, especially when you consider the miniscule budget of just over $1 million. It’s not a film that tries to reinvent the wheel, only to tell a tale as well as it can.