Hello again, ghosts and ghouls! I’m back again with another review. This time, I’m reviewing the 2018 fantasy/horror film, WILDLING. It’s tough to find films that really resonate with me these days – I feel like most horror films lately have such a heavy focus on scaring the bejeezus out of superficial viewers and not in the way most horror fans appreciate.
As a horror fan, when I watch a film, I don’t want excessive jump scares or loud sounds, or even an excess of blood and gore (which trust me, I don’t mind, I do actually particularly like them, I just believe it’s a tactic that’s overdone to make viewers cringe). It has been tough to find films that really knock me off my feet and make me feel something, or films that are horror without inherently scaring the crap out of you.
In walks WILDLING. Anna (Bel Powley), in the midst of her teenage years, is forced to confront a secret about herself that’s been hidden from her since childhood. Her “father” (she calls him “Daddy”) played by Brad Dourif (Lord of the Rings, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and countless others) has had a hand in keeping this secret from her by telling stories of the Wildlings that come and eat children if they go outside.
Wildlings are reminiscent of werewolves, but slightly more human, which to me makes them a little bit more terrifying because they’re relatively coherent about what they’re doing. I’m sure by now you all know how I feel about body horror; it’s by far one of my favorite sub-genres of horror because it makes me cringe more than anything else…does that not freak anyone else out? Bodies going through unexplainable, uncontrollable changes that could potentially hurt or completely rip you apart? Since you’re reading this instead of sitting with me as I type, yes, my nose is wrinkled writing all of this. Body horror is my jam. It’s gross and I love it.
Anyway, now that you know the gist of what the film is about and you know a little bit of what to expect, I want to tell you what you’re not expecting: this absolutely insanely perfect cast. Anna, the lead in the film, is portrayed by Bel Powley (mentioned above) and while her resume isn’t ridiculously extensive (as it is for some of her cast-mates), she absolutely steals the show. This girl is amazing. She plays Anna with such a unique personality – I genuinely don’t think that anyone else would have done as perfect a job as Powley. She is so convincing, sincere, naive…I hope we see a lot more of her in the future.
We then have Brad Dourif, who plays “Daddy”, a character so bizarre and creepy that really, anyone else would have just been wrong for this part. He’s so sweet and menacing simultaneously – I think I actually said “ew” a handful of times regarding parts of the film he was in because his character is just so uncomfortable.
Then comes Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings, The Strangers), who we all know and love. She’s police chief Ellen Cooper, and it’s awesome to see her in such a powerful role. She maintains her soft-spoken demeanor but is a force to be reckoned with. I absolutely loved her in this film; she wears many hats as Ellen and does it all with grace and poise, but don’t fuck with her.
Last but not least we have Colin Kelly-Sordelet, who plays Ellen’s brother Ray. Colin hasn’t been in many films, similarly to Powler, but you would never know. It seems like he’s been doing this since he could talk. Another incredibly convincing portrayal of uncomfortable teenage angst, confusion, and love.
The film itself is beautiful- the cinematography is great and in terms of color, there are a lot of darkness-vs-light type aspects. You can tell how someone is feeling based on the color, not necessarily their dialogue or their actions. The entire film makes you feel from start to finish, which is rare.
If you’re a horror fan looking for your typical jump scares and gross-outs, you are not going to find them in WILDLING. Sure, there’s a little blood, but more of the horror comes from, like I said earlier, the body horror aspect as well as the portrayal of these characters, because it’s uncomfortable and weird, and I don’t really have another way to explain it. I don’t know if I would even really consider it horror per say, it’s more like a fantasy/thriller with a hint of horror mixed in, which I most definitely did not mind.
I’m glad that a film like this exists because as horror fans, we become jaded and discouraged by the lack of newness in the industry. WILDLING is sure to pique your interest. I will definitely be watching this film again, and I advise you do the same if you’re looking for something new.
I would love to know what you thought about this film, which is now available to own through Scream Factory! Once you have watched it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!