Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
April 1st, 2018

The Wicked Within

The Wicked Within
Directed by Jay Alaimo
Written by Stephen Wallis, Shawna Waldron
Starring Sienna Guillory, Gianni Capaldi, Enzo Cilenti
83 mins

Now we reach the third of eight titles in this round of After Dark Horrorfest's "Eight Films to Die For" series. The dog is hopefully behind us, and we segue into "The Wicked Within," a movie that goes after family, secrets, and terror as only After Dark can. But will this one hold water, or are we in for a strange new era in After Dark releasing?

"The Wicked Within" follows a family who's gotten together again for the first time in a year since one of its youngest members died unexpectedly. Bad enough opportunity to reunite an estranged family, but it's only going to get worse. With tension already running high, one of the family members becomes almost inexplicably demonically possessed. At least, that's what the family thinks. Is she possessed? Is she using this as cover to tell the rest of the family what she actually thinks of them? Or is something even stranger going on within these disturbed walls?

A second look at the plot synopsis is enough to get me very, very nervous. It smacks far, far too much of that last one with its "experimental" style.

I admit, though, they do an excellent job of building tension in the early days. This cast does an excellent job of portraying a family on the brink of disaster. Mom is positively manic for a new baby, at pretty much all costs, up to and including alienating the children that would produce said baby.

But perhaps better yet, they do a fair job of releasing the tension that they built up. Horror tends to falter on one point or another; it either doesn't do much building and instead sputters through or it blows too much time building and not actually firing off that tension.

Then they manage to pull a wonderful end-run midway through when they call a priest in, only to have him turn out to be of the Father Callahan stripe. If you remember "Salem's Lot", the book or the first movie, you know the type. He'll have a similar epiphany, though, which is certainly welcome.

This is easily one of the better possession movies I've seen in quite a while. It's got the buildup, it's got the release, it's got some real force behind it, truth be told.

The ending has a bit of a twist to it, if a bit on the nonsense side. But like the rest of the movie, it's got some real potent force involved as well. It leaves a few more questions than answers, but it does the job very well.

Special features are, once again, nonexistent. No subtitles, no audio options, not even a trailer. Honestly, Fox, you could show a little effort here, couldn't you? Why bother to release something you're not putting anything into?

In the end, "The Wicked Within" gives us one part "The Exorcist" and one part "The Usual Suspects." It's a combination that really hasn't been tried before, and one that illustrates, marvelously, what the After Dark Horrorfest is really about.