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The Wretched


  • John-Paul Howard stars in a scene from the movie "The Wretched." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (CNS photo/courtesy IFC Midnight)
  • Azie Tesfai stars in a scene from the movie "The Wretched." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (CNS photo/courtesy IFC Midnight)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- What's a red-blooded American lad to do when a witch who preys on little children moves in next door? For the answer, grown movie fans can consult "The Wretched" (IFC Midnight).

Writers, directors and brothers Brett and Drew T. Pierce blend nostalgic notes from 1980s adolescent-aimed comedies into their middling horror tale.

So when their protagonist -- awkward, slightly dim but likable Ben (John-Paul Howard) -- isn't going up against the supernatural, he finds time to chug hard liquor, hurl while he's drunkenly trying to neck and get tricked into skinny-dipping while everyone else stays dressed. Somewhere the folks who foisted the "Porky's" franchise on us, as well as the John Hughes "Brat Pack" genre, are all nodding in recognition.

But then it's back to the task at hand. Ben's parents are preparing to divorce and, as part of that process, he's just been lobbed from mom's custody to that of his dad, Liam (Jamison Jones), the manager -- or perhaps owner -- of a Great Lakes-region marina.

No sooner has Ben settled into his new home, though, than Abbie (Zarah Mahler), the otherwise ordinary neighbor lady, begins behaving strangely, especially where her young son, Dillon (Blane Crockarell), is concerned. As the audience knows, and as Ben begins to suspect, Abbie is playing host to an ancient malevolent sorceress.

The only person Ben has a shot of convincing that a witch hunt is warranted seems to be Mallory (Piper Curda), his co-worker at the marina with whom he's smitten. Can this duo find true love while keeping the forces of evil at bay?

The siblings at the helm mostly go light on the bloodletting, at least until "The Wretched" reaches its somewhat grisly climax (the fiend has a zombie's taste for flesh). Along with the violence, however, there's more than a hint of collateral voyeurism as Ben spies on Abbie and her husband, Ty (Kevin Bigley), in their bedroom as well as elsewhere.

The parents of Ben's real-life contemporaries should note, accordingly, that this is questionable fare for them at best. For streaming information, their elders can go to: https://www.wretchedmovie.com/watch-at-home/.

The film contains occult themes, much horror mayhem with momentary but intense gore and gruesome images, underage drinking, rear and partial upper female nudity, a couple of profanities, about a half-dozen rough terms, considerable crude and crass language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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CAPSULE REVIEW

"The Wretched" (IFC Midnight)

After a witch who preys on children takes possession of the wife and mother (Zarah Mahler) next door, endangering her little boy (Blane Crockarell), a teen (John-Paul Howard) who has just moved in with his father (Jamison Jones) as his parents prepare to divorce struggles to combat the evil sorceress, aided by the co-worker (Piper Curda) with whom he's smitten. Writers, directors and brothers Brett and Drew T. Pierce blend nostalgic notes from 1980s adolescent-aimed comedies into their middling horror tale and mostly go light on the bloodletting until its somewhat grisly climax. Along with the violence, there's more than a hint of collateral voyeurism as the protagonist spies on his neighbors, making this, at best, questionable fare for his real-life contemporaries. Occult themes, much horror mayhem with momentary but intense gore and gruesome images, underage drinking, rear and partial upper female nudity, a couple of profanities, about a half-dozen rough terms, considerable crude and crass language, an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

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CLASSIFICATION

"The Wretched" (IFC Midnight) -- Catholic News Service classification, A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

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