April 10, 2018 Wildling (Movie Review)
Do you want to hear a story, a story about the Wildling? If so, then IFC Midnight has the perfect blend of Fantasy and Horror for you with, well, Wildling, which arrives in theaters in New York and Los Angeles as well as on VOD and Digital HD Friday, April 13, 2018.
Adorable little Anna (Aviva Winick: Broadway Kids Against Bullying: I Have a Voice short 2016) is living in a situation that is not exactly easy for the young child to grasp. She is imprisoned in a basement somewhere in the woods, cared for by a man whom she knows only as Daddy (Brad Dourif: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975, Seed of Chucky 2004). At night, creepy Daddy tells her tales of how she is the last child left on Earth thanks to the Wildling, who ate all the others. This is why, he tells her, her room is reinforced with steel bars on the small window and the doorknob is electrified; to keep her safe from that very same Wildling, a hairy beast with claws.
Brainwashed to believe every word that Daddy says throughout the years, a dramatic shift of circumstances will find teenage Anna (Bel Powley: The Diary of a Teenage Girl 2015, Carrie Pilby 2016) rescued from her imprisonment and now located in a hospital in Upstate New York. With no family to call her own, Anna will find herself taken in by a sweet-voiced, soft-spoken and kindly sheriff, Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001, The Strangers 2008).
As Anna begins the process of reintegration into normal life, she quickly discovers unwanted changes occurring throughout her body. With her haunting blue eyes wide open to this new world, she also tentatively befriends Ellen’s brooding teenage brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet: 7 Million Tickets short 2008, Radium Girls 2017), who attempts to provide a helping hand with introducing her into the world of regular teenage-dom.
What follows involves a Wolf Man (James Le Gros: Drugstore Cowboy 1989, Mildred Pierce 2011), a troublemaking teen (Mike Faist: The Grief of Others 2015, I Can I Will I Did 2017), and an unkindly officer (Troy Ruptash: Maron series, The Young Pope series). As these bizarre and diverse personalities conjoin to enter Anna’s life, she will quickly learn that some myths possess more than an ounce of truth. Clocking in at 93 minutes in-length, Wildling was directed by Fritz Böhm (Ein Brudermord short 2002, Mondmann short 2006) and is a feature-length debut for this superbly talented director. The film was written by Böhm and Florian Eder.
Wildling is billed as a blend of Fantasy and Horror, though the script leans more toward Drama with Fantastical/Horror elements. The tale here is a coming-of-age story with pepperings of Mystery and Suspense, though the plot is heavily anchored around some truly classic Horror characters. Complicated as that may sound, it is a fully enjoyable film that owes much to the acting of its talented ensemble cast.
As main character Anna, Powley is not given a massive listing of lines to work with, but she communicates a world of emotion through her haunting eyes. Confused and oft afraid, Powley’s character is struggling with issues far beyond the scope of most normal teenagers. Or, well, any normal teenagers. In her powerful role as the kind-hearted Sheriff Cooper, Tyler does a beautiful job of being the motherly figure who reaches out to Anna and attempts to bring a dose of normalcy into the troubled girl’s life. The juxtaposition of their roles is, in fact, what brings this story to life.
Shot in the gorgeous forests of Upstate New York and with a lovely original soundtrack – with an original, titular track thanks to the talented Linda Perry – Wildling is a film that weaves an enjoyable little modern-day fairy tale ride. Blending together a myriad of genres, this film drafts a story that is engaging and moves at a steady clip, with superbly-done special effects to keep the story moving fluidly. Considering that this is a feature-length debut for Director Fritz Böhm, there is clearly no limit to what we can expect from this talented man in the future. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Wildling 4 of 5 stars.