Fantasia 2020: ‘The Dark and the Wicked’ is Dark, Wicked, Genuine Horror
Bryan Bertino first shocked audiences with The Strangers, stinging our sense of isolation horror and creating a whole new brand of stranger danger. With The Dark and the Wicked, Bertino turns that sting into a stab, twisting in new terrors to haunt your dreams. The film is a horrific nightmare from which siblings Louise (Marin Ireland, Hell or High Water) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr., Mud) cannot wake.
With their father near death and their mother struggling to manage the family farm, Louise and Michael return home, despite their mother urging them to stay away. There’s a palpable feeling of darkness settling over the farm, and Louise and Michael soon come to realize that something is very, deeply wrong. Something is coming for their ailing father, and there’s no hope to stop it.
Filmed on the actual Bertino family farm, the cold rural setting encourages discomfort. There’s no warmth in this family home, no sense of belonging. Early scenes with the siblings and their mother are loaded with formality and distance. There is a distinctly stilted relationship within the family. It makes the following events even more unnerving as you never feel quite comfortable there to begin with.
A sense of dread builds through the film, and stillness steeps it to the point where it’s almost unbearable. Something as simple as chopping carrots can torture you with tension. The music (by Tom Schraeder) is delicate but with a clear weight that pulls you down. The shot framing, the editing, the sound design, every element is perfectly balanced in a way that absolutely ruins your nerves.
We move through the story day by day, with title cards announcing our progress. Without knowing where we’re going to end up, there’s a sense of anticipation, especially when you realize just how much can happen in one day on this hellbound homestead.
The Dark and the Wicked is formed around the loss of a parent. It’s an inevitability that most of us will have to deal with at one point or another in our lives, and it’s a sobering thought. Bertino weaves in the idea of finding religion late in life; some may seek comfort in the warm bosom of the bible as they creep closer to the great unknown. But what if these newfound beliefs are formed not from a place of comfort, but a place of fear.
It’s this fear that churns through the film, chugging away like an old steam engine, growing in power until it’s about to burst. Louise and Michael can feel it, can sense it, but there’s nothing they can do to slow it down. You feel their utter sense of hopelessness. A great evil is not coming, it’s already here.
In these moments, Bertino plays with shadows, lighting, and sound to build an atmosphere that vibrates with true horror. It’s rare to find a film that makes me feel anxious anymore, but The Dark and the Wicked gave me that “I’m scared to watch but I can’t look away” feeling that every horror fan yearns for. Some moments are a flash in the pan, but for the truly upsetting scenes, Bertino holds you there, unflinching, draining every last bit of terror he can. In one aforementioned carrot chopping scene, you fully anticipate what might happen, yet I was still so fraught with tension that I could barely stand it.
Bertino pushes his characters to the brink of sanity and holds them there, leaning over the edge, about to drop into a deep abyss. There’s no turning back, no escaping it. No one is safe. The more the film progresses, the more you realize this, and you cannot look away.
The Dark and the Wicked lives up to its title. It’s a true horror film, loaded with genuine fear and a heavy, bleak, deeply upsetting ending that will undoubtedly stick with you. Bertino has proven himself to be one of the new masters of horror, and this film will surely make its way into many Top Horror of 2020 lists. It’s mean, it’s dark, and it’s seriously fucking wicked.
For more from Fantasia 2020, check out our review of Anything for Jackson.
Paranormal Games: Red Door, Yellow Door
Let’s play a game: Red Door, Yellow Door
Also Known As Doors Of The Mind
Spooky games that border on the paranormal are a mainstay at slumber parties around the world. From light as a feather, stiff as a board… Doors of the Mind
to the classic Ouija board, we’ve all played at least one, but there are others out there, perhaps less well known, and one of the spookiest is Red Door, Yellow Door. Doors of the Mind
What is Red Door Yellow Door?
Sometimes this paranormal game is called Doors of the Mind or Black Door, White Door, and well, any other combination of colors, you can think of.
Red Door, Yellow Door takes two to play. However, it’s perfect for a late-night audience of scared teens, so it’s no surprise that it’s made a resurgence in recent years.
The Game Rules
The rules are simple, but the outcome could be dire, or so the urban legends claim.
One player is the guide, and the other is the subject.
- The guide sits on the floor, cross-legged with a pillow in their lap.
- The subject will then lie on the ground with their head in the guide’s lap and their hands raised in the air.
- The guide should, at this point, begin to massage the subject’s temples in a circular motion chanting, “Red Door, Yellow Door, any other color door” over and over again, joined by any witnesses to the game. Doors of the Mind
- As the subject slips into the trance, they will find themselves in a room in their mind and at that point, they should lower their arms to the floor signaling the guide and any witnesses to stop chanting.
The game has officially begun.
At this point, the person acting as the guide will begin to ask questions to the subject in order to get them to describe the room.
Any witnesses should be silent so that there is no sound except for the voice of the guide and the voice of the subject answering the guide’s question.
The instructor might ask what colors the doors to the room are, how they feel about the doors, and instruct them to go through varying doors into other rooms.
The subject is encouraged to answer all questions honestly until the guide decides to end the game, but there are some warnings and signs of danger to keep in mind.
Dangers To Keep In Mind Doors of the Mind
According to Scary for Kids:
- If you encounter people in the room, it may be best not to interact with them. They may be evil and try to trick you.
- If you find yourself in a room full of clocks, leave immediately. Clocks can trap you.
- You can go wherever you want, but it is safer to go up than down.
- Light things and light colors tend to be better than dark things and dark colors.
- If you should find yourself trapped in a room, you must try to wake up. If you don’t, you might be trapped forever.
- If you die in the game, you will supposedly die in real life.
- If you encounter a man in a suit who makes you uncomfortable, end the game immediately.
- If the guide is having a hard time waking the subject from the trance, they should shake them roughly to bring them into wakefulness.
Sounds creepy, right?!
The whole point of the Red Door, Yellow Door, seemingly, is to explore the inner workings of your own mind and to also understand that there are also dark sides to everyone.
Some of the things you might encounter inside the game may be those very things about yourself that you don’t wish to face.
Have you ever played Red Door, Yellow Door or any variation of this spooky game? Let us know in the comments!
This article has been updated. it was originally posted in February 2020.
Jean-Claude Van Damme Rumored to Appear as a Ghost in ‘Beetlejuice 2’
During The Hot Mic Podcast, the crew spoke about Jenna Ortega in talks to play Lydia’s daughter. Well, it turns out that the guys on Hot Mic also heard that an aging action star is set to play a ghost in the sequel as well. Over on Arrow in the Head, the direction of the aging action star immediately took the shape of Jean-Claude Van Damme. However, there are options out there that may point to other action stars like Sylvester Stallone. To be honest we would be totally fine with either of these guys coming to the world of Beetlejuice and playing a ghost.
The synopsis for Beetlejuice went like this:
After Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their country residence, unable to leave the house. When the unbearable Deetzes (Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones) and teen daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) buy the home, the Maitlands attempt to scare them away without success. Their efforts attract Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a rambunctious spirit whose “help” quickly becomes dangerous for the Maitlands and innocent Lydia.
We can’t wait to find out if this bit of info is true. So far, we know that Jenna Ortega has been in talks to play Lydia’s daughter in the Tim Burton directd sequel. It will also see a return of Michael Keaton.
We will be sure to keep you updated on future Beetlejuice sequel updates.
‘The Lighthouse’ Comes to Special 4K UHD A24 Collectors Release
If it is one thing we know it is that we love Robert Eggers. Between The VVitch and The Lighthouse we were made into huge fans. Next up, Eggers will take on Nosferatu. In the meantime, A24 has released a very special edition release of The Lighthouse on 4K UHD.
The synopsis for The Lighthouse goes like this:
Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
Disc extras include:
○ Director’s Commentary with Robert Eggers
○ Exclusive mini-documentary on composer Mark Korven
○ Costume walkthrough and interview with costume designer Linda Muir
○ 2019 making-of featurette
○ Deleted scenes Book contents include:
○ Storyboard excerpts by David Cullen
○ Production design drawings by Craig Lathrop
○ BTS photography by Eric Chakeen
○ Bib-front shirt pattern made by Marvin Schlichting to Linda Muir’s design
We can’t wait to add this one to our collection. You can pick up your very own copy right over HERE at A24.