Whats Up – Week 29: Fantasia Takes Me On a World Tour

Tranquil Dreams (39)

Another week has passed by in 2019 and its been a crazy week. For this and next week, I’m going to promise that life is going to revolve a lot around Fantasia. I probably got through one of my more intense weeks as a lot of things contributed to trying to get as many films done as possible. We’ll talk more in depth in the Watching section. Let’s just get to it!

READING

Within

Currently reading: Within by Clare C. Marshall

Between constant movie review writing with any free time I have, reading is a bit slow. I’m only a quarter into Within and so far, I’m liking it quite a bit. Definitely looking forward to get finish this one.

PLAYING

rullo

  • Rullo
  • Bonza

I’m going back to some of the mobile games to clear my mind. Surprisingly, during these moments, what destresses are puzzles and number games. Hence why I’m back to Rullo to do some math. Its probably the contrast  between the writing and the gaming that makes it feel more like I can just let it all go as I get immersed into calculating and working out the logic and such.  The same applies to Bonza, which I play a little less mostly because its a very wordy new style of crossword puzzles.

WATCHING

The Wretched

Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain, USA, Cambodia, South Africa are all the countries that I’ve been through this week’s Fantasia screenings. Talk about travelling the world through movies, right? If you want to see the ratings, you can check out my Letterboxd account HERE.

I haven’t disliked any of the films that I’ve seen to be honest just like them on different degrees and some I acknowledge the flaws but then it really works in their unique way. Its what makes Fantasia so fun to cover. Hands down, the movie that adds a unique twist to an under-explored horror subgenre is The Wretched who had the world premiere at the festival.

BINGING

Go Go Squid

Currently binging: Go Go Squid, The Coming One III, Rivers Flows To You, Love Signal 2, Queer Eye Season 4

You all know that I can’t stay away from Queer Eye when it lands so I have already started Queer Eye Season 4 and am about 3 episodes in or so. However, I’m taking it easy because I also know that its my companion series as I write plus, I truly love binging it. The few episodes that I’ve seen, its still very great so I’ll probably finish that up before Sugar Rush Season 2 lands on Netflix. Plus, while I’d love to say its my series of the week, the obsession for Go Go Squid is legit right now. Its on the way to being Top 3 TV series of this year or at least in terms of Chinese drama. I actually saved up a few days of episodes just so that I can binge a few episodes as a reward after I catch up with the reviews that were backed up on the weekend.

That’s it for this week recap on What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

Fantasia Festival 2019: The Wretched (World Premiere, 2019)

The Wretched (2019)

The Wretched

Directors (and writers): Brett Pierce & Drew T. Pierce

Cast: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai, Zarah Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Blane Crockarell

The Wretched is a 2019 horror film about a teenage boy, recently moved with his father following the divorce, to discover that the neighbor’s wife is possessed by a thousand year old witch.

Witch-oriented horror movies are far and few. In fact, whenever they come, it definitely takes a very familiar take. The Wretched aims to breath new life in the genre. How it does it is by putting together two witch tales together. Choosing to use practical effects instead of CGI, it also delivers a lot of realistic and genuinely unsettling moments. It packs in a few jump scares here and there but mostly, it relies heavily on building tension. The scenes are driven by the anticipation of horror and the creepy movements of the witch and learning about how this one works and attacks.

The story is split into two parts. On one hand, it has a teenage boy Ben (John-Paul Howard) defiant and working hard to accept his parents’ divorce and adapting to living in the small town. He meets a girl, Mallory (Piper Curda) who works at the marina with him and there is a little love arc there. Most of this feels mostly unneeded and fairly by the numbers but it helps ground the story and fills in the gap. What helps is that both John-Paul Howard and Piper Curda deliver well on their roles. They aren’t annoying to watch or have any dumb dialogue. In fact, they both have quite a bit of charm thanks to a well-written script. Mallory is a character with a lot of sass and that offsets the clueless attitude of Ben. When in these dramatic bits, it weakens the story in general.

On the other side, The Wretched is its strongest when in its horror elements, which it luckily spends a lot of time. It has a lot to do with Zarah Mahler delivering a solid performance that is every bit as creepy as it is suspenseful as the witch’s possession reveals the clues to how this witch works and her goals. To keep it spoiler-free, let’s just say its a truly unique take on the genre. Her eyes and expressions divulge a lot of uneasiness and every movement also sends chills. From the little details of the witch’s symbol and finding bits and pieces as Ben digs further and observes from afar, especially as the film enters into the final act and the big twist justifies that the scenes that seem oddly fitted into the film suddenly all make sense.

The Wretched has some small flaws and the background defiant teenage story feels a bit “been there done that”. Luckily, the directors have a great backdrop and create an outstandingly unique new witch tale that makes up for those moments. The Pierce Brothers have found a new twist to this not frequently explored subgenre while also showing off that they are all about the details and have the creativity to bring some fresh ideas to the horror genre. It’ll be nice to see what else they come up with next. Of course, The Wretched world premiered at Fantasia Festival so its one to look out for in the upcoming festival circuits and comes highly recommended.