Written By: AC
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Babak Anvari
Producers: Babak Anvari, Megan Ellison, et al.
Writers: Babak Anvari & Nathan Ballingrud
Date Released: October 18, 2019
Armie Hammer as Will
Dakota Johnson as Carrie
Zazie Beetz as Alicia
Brad William Henke as Eric
Karl Glusman as Jeffrey
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Wounds is a psychological horror film from up-and-coming director Babak Anvari. Anvari is best known for his recent indie hit Under the Shadow, which is set in his native Tehran in the 1980s. With Wounds, Anvari strays away from familiar territory and tackles a story based on the novella ‘The Visible Filth’ by Nathan Ballingrud. Set in New Orleans, Wounds stars several in-demand actors including Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Gray), and Zazie Beetz (The Joker).
The film starts with an affable bartender (Will) working one night when a vicious fight breaks out. That opening scene is tense and filled with dread, leaving the viewer unsure of whom they should be keeping their eye on. A group of non-descript teens, one of who leaves their cellphone behind, turn out to be the catalyst for Will’s descent into madness.
Will pockets the phone and starts to receive disturbing text messages with pictures of brutal murders. Reluctantly, he shares the phone with his girlfriend Carrie, who does research into some of the books pictured on the phone. They discover that the teens had been attempting some kind of Gnostic summoning ritual that uses wounds in the human body as a portal to bring higher beings into the world. Will’s behavior becomes more erratic as the film goes on and the climax of the film is both horrifying and inevitable.
For a film called ‘Wounds’, it’s pretty restrained with showing gore. Aside from the bar fight at the beginning and it’s aftermath, most of the horror comes from the unseen. I thought more emphasis would be placed on the images on the phone, but the story doesn’t dwell on those. I think the sparse use of graphic images make the movie more effective, because when the camera does linger on something, it’s truly terrifying.
The Grave Review
‘Wounds’ is a highly ambitious film that defies genre classification. There are paranormal elements, but to me it seems to have Lovcraftian influences. The pacing was great and I loved how it ended, but something about the film left me cold, although that might have been the intention. The central character, Will, seems like a real person, but as the film goes on we see that he is merely a charming façade, devoid of any deep thoughts or emotions. It was a unique choice to have the protagonist be a bystander to the summoning, rather than center the movie on the group of teens.
I love when directors make full use of the medium of film to make the viewer feel a certain way. Wounds masterfully crafts the mood with its character interactions, dialogue, and camera work. It all blends together to create a sense of cold unreality that is truly unsettling. It is not a ‘fun’ horror movie to watch, but ‘Wounds’ is a good choice for non-horror fans because it leans into psychological thriller territory rather than jump scares and gore.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Wounds (2019) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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