Blu-ray Review: WILDLING Is Plain Weird
First off, Wildling is a very strange movie. It's both strange in its content, but it also doesn't fully gel for me in the second half. Directed and co-written by Fritz Bohm, Wildling has the flavor of a filmmaker who doesn't quite know what a horror film is supposed to be. Or is it even supposed to be a horror film? Maybe it's a fantasy by way of a coming of age drama. It's certainly more shot and lit that way, though the cinematography is quite lovely, but the film is listed as "elevated horror" on iMDb, and it's most definitely not among the ranks of The Witch, It Follows, It Comes at Night, Hereditary etc.
Or maybe I'm just not the demographic that this film hopes to find. Teens will probably love it, but this coming-of-age tale of a nearly feral girl turning into a woman/animal creature failed to reach me. Ginger Snaps it ain't. (Or Raw or Thelma.)
The film starts off promising as Brad Dourif ("Daddy") warns his young daughter Anna of the wildlings outside and how they will eat her if she ever leaves. Creepy, for sure. She grows older, into a teenager (Bel Powley, who is terrific), Daddy injects her with something to stunt her growth. EVERY DAY. SO very, very gross and creepy. We can't have girls growing into women now, can we? At least not in Wildling, but these scenes did make me squirm.
At one point, Anna gets sick of laying in bed for about 16 years, and tells Daddy she wants to go to the "better place," where her little pet mouse has gone. That's enough for Daddy, who decides to take himself out with a gun in the mouth. The shot disturbs the neighbors, who call the cops. Enter Liv Tyler, who plays the sheriff (huh?). It was at about the point where the sheriff has taken Anna home (while her DNA is being determined), and shaves her legs for her in the tub, where I said, "what guy wrote this movie?" As I found out, there were two of them.
Anyway. Things get more interesting for a bit when Anna joins the sheriff's brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet) at school (he's about 20 or more years younger than her) and she punches a bully. A few more formulaic things happen involving a local weirdo, more violence, hunt-loving hicks, and then the film ends with an opportunity that leaves things open for a sequel.
The actors are the best part of the film, in particular, Powley, Dourif (of course), Kelly-Sordelet, and the very young girls who play Anna at early stages of her life. Beyond that, I seem to be the odd person out who didn't dig this film as much as others, but you can't win them all.
There isn't much in the way of special features here, just the below. I did like seeing the deleted and extended scenes, however --- we get a little more of Dourif, which is always a treat. The film looks lovely on Blu-ray, but the sound mix could be better; there were often times where I had trouble deciphering an actor's lines below the score and sound design.
- Deleted scenes
If this film sounds like its up your alley, you can learn more about Wildling (and where to buy) at IFC's page here or get it directly from Scream Factory here. Want a taste of the film? Check out the clip below.