THE DARK AND THE WICKED (2020) Reviews and overview

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The Dark and The Wicked is a 2020 American horror film about two siblings who return to the family farm to attend their father’s imminent death. What initially appears to be a timeless ritual of loss and remembrance turns out to be something very different.

Written, produced and directed by Bryan Bertino (director of The Monster; Mockingbird; The Strangers; co-producer of He’s Out There; Stephanie and The Blackcoat’s Daughter), the movie stars Marin Ireland, Michael Abbott Jr., Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and Lynn Andrews. The producers include Bryan Bertino, Adrienne Biddle, Sonny Mallhi (director of (Family Blood; Anguish; Hurt) and Kevin Matusow.

The ominous soundtrack score was composed by Tom Schraeder (Doll Eyes; Beast Mode; Hurt).


On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family…


“Very punishing in its seriousness and use of violence, The Dark and the Wicked will entertain few and disturb even more. Somewhat slow in pace and focused on family drama, this is not going to be a film for everyone and may even feel like a crucifixion to others.” 28 Days Later Analysis

” …this uses real-life tragedy to draw inspiration from and ground things (slightly) in a way where the evil presence isn’t the only misfortune on this rural farm. Is there anything that doesn’t work? Not really […] The Dark and the Wicked fires on all cylinders with its supernatural take on the family unit’s decay, which may be Bryan Bertino’s magnum opus.” Arrow in the Head

” …its prestige trappings somewhat get in the way of its puerile thrills, and keep the finale from going quite as all-out nuts as it probably could have gone. But The Dark and the Wicked is still a perverse delight, oozing with country-fried creepiness and some remarkable performances. Is it high art? Maybe not. But it’s f*cking scary— and isn’t that the point in the first place?” Boston Hassle

” …The Dark and the Wicked may not be the most original genre effort out there, leaving many of its themes high and dry in favor of some truly dreadful shocks, but thanks to doing the latter effectively and the compelling performances from its leads, it proves to be another successful outing from writer/director Bertino.” Coming Soon

“Apt terms for describing The Dark and the Wicked might include creepy, eerie, and haunting, preceded by a modifier such as mildly or occasionally. Those are distinctly different terms than scary, terrifying, or unnerving. In other words, the movie can be conveniently called a “slow burn,” and one that leans heavily toward slow and not so much toward a burn.” Culture Crypt

” …the film runs too long and has about three separate endings where the film could’ve more effectively concluded, but that doesn’t change that The Dark & The Wicked is simply horror in its purest form. It’s a film that seeks to scare, shock, and provoke in a way that makes it feel meaningful as opposed to just cheap.” Elements of Madness

“A slow-developing, plodding terror that was creatively woven to tell a tale of torment, evil, and eventual breaking, Bertino’s film approaches horror without a reliance on hollow jump-scares, but instead on crafty a sensible story that implants terror into the viewer’s head as the film rolls on.” Fright Nerd

“Acting throughout The Dark and the Wicked is well-executed against this peculiar gothic tale. All the elements that we’d expect from this style come together nicely making for a well-rounded film that succeeds in its purpose. The Dark and the Wicked takes the award, in my perspective, as a true modern horror classic earning it the prestigious placement of on one of 2020’s scariest releases.” HNN

“A melancholy, slow-burn that will divide audiences, The Dark and the Wicked won’t set the world alight as The Strangers did, but offers enough dread and winch-inducing injury to make for a satisfying watch.” The Hollywood News

“Ireland remains impressive throughout, and her ability to deliver maximum emotion (usually abject terror) without falling into hammy gimmicks elevates the film, even when it’s teetering into its own gimmickry. She’s the kind of scream queen we need these days — emotive, real, deeply human — even if The Dark and the Wicked doesn’t always rise up to meet her powers.” IndieWire

The Dark and the Wicked is a gut-punch of a film that rips the heart out and savors each bite because it can. There is no happiness in this film, just an overwhelming sense of grief, and so unless you’re into torturing yourself with film, The Dark and the Wicked may not be one you revisit often. But without a doubt, this is Bertino’s masterpiece.” Killer Horror Critic

“Xander Berkeley shows up as a priest who aggressively makes them feel worse, and then appears to be a representative of the evil force on the land.  Horrible things happen to the livestock, and other incidental characters come to harm under the influence of whatever is all around.  It’s a slow-burning, rough-seams movie, with great work from Ireland as the harassed, exhausted lead.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Genuinely creepy, unremittingly absorbing and emphatically frightening flicks like this do not come around that often and The Dark and the Wicked is all those things and more. Even the most jaded of horror hounds will treasure this oppressive plunge into the realms of the diabolical.” The People’s Movies

The Dark and the Wicked lives and dies by how much you appreciate its tone. There isn’t much payoff to excite gorehounds, which is to be expected given the subject matter. However, what does appear in the film is as brutal as it is brief. Then there is the mysterious and vaguely religious cause of their woes, which can anger fans who like to understand everything that is going on.” Red Carpet Crash

“Often we will say that horror is subjective, that you may or may not find this scary or entertaining or will jump out of your skin. The Dark and The Wicked, we will say with the utmost confidence, achieves all of those things. It is scary. It is entertaining. It will make you jump out of your skin. Perfectly set up, established and executed, this is no hyperbole, The Dark and The Wicked is one of the scariest movies of the year. ” Screen Anarchy

” …has individual moments that work very well, such as the absolutely chilling opening scene and a number of intense and gory horror set-pieces, including one that’ll make you hesitant about cutting carrots ever again. However, despite having the right atmosphere, The Dark and the Wicked isn’t as instantly memorable a film as Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers…” Sean Kelly on Movies

“There are haunting moments throughout the film- the mother at a cutting board; her and her husband’s goats, and their eventual fate; a priest (Xander Berkley) who pops up, and may have knowledge of what’s going on; and when a family friend comes with news. The ending is what people will remember, however, and it’s a mammoth gut punch, pulled off in a powerful, simple way that will be difficult to get out of your head.” Sonic Cinema

The Dark and the Wicked was filmed on Bertino’s farm, and he uses his familiarity with it the get the best possible shots and the most wring maximum atmosphere out of them. He backs those visuals up with sound effects and a score that are designed to give the viewer a sense of dread and unease. Bertino lets all of this simmer until the last act […] The last half hour of The Dark and the Wicked is bloody, unrelentingly bleak and powerful.” Voices from the Balcony

“In The Dark and the Wicked Bertino has delivered an intensely claustrophobic, fitfully gruesome and unrelentingly grim tale. Added to by a pair of great central performances. And despite its flaws, it might just be his strongest film to date.” The Wee Review


In the USA, The Dark and The Wicked was due to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival until the lockdown happened. It has been shown at the Fantasia Festival and will be released theatrically, On-Demand and on Digital on November 6th 2020 by RLJE Films.

Cast and characters:

Marin Ireland … Louise
Michael Abbott Jr. … Michael
Xander Berkeley … Priest
Lynn Andrews … Nurse
Julie Oliver-Touchstone … Mother
Tom Nowicki … Charlie
Ella Ballentine … Young Girl
Mel Cowan … Doctor
Mindy Raymond … Becky
Chris Doubek … Funeral Director
Michael Zagst … Father
Charles Jonathan Trott … The Wicked

Filming locations:

Granbury, Texas

Technical details:

95 minutes


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