Interesting bit of box office trivia: this low budget horror movie became the first film to top the U.S. box office for six weeks running since Avatar back in 2009, a feat largely made possible by the fact that there’s a global pandemic on at the moment and there wasn’t much else competing for the patronage of those Americans brave or foolhardy enough to take a punt on a matinee.
That’s not to damn The Wretched with faint praise, though; while it can’t, of course, compete with James Cameron’s blockbuster in terms of sheer financial wherewithal and technical wizardry, this is a brisk, fun, fright flick that’s well worth a punt on a lazy evening.
Opening with an ‘80s-set prologue dripping with retro set dressing and a heavy helping of spooky supernatural WTFery, The Wretched soon settles into a narrative model not a million miles away from Tom Holland’s Fright Night (1985), wherein amiable teenager Ben (John-Paul Howard) begins to suspect that his neighbour, Abbie (Zarah Mahler), might be possessed by a witch. Or possibly the ghost of a witch? The exact nature of the occult issue at hand is a bit murky, and for Ben this is an extra problem piled onto an already full plate.