Something Wicked (Movie Review)

Something Wicked (Movie Review)
4 10


PLOT: James (John Robinson) and Christine (Shantel VanSanten) are recently engaged college students seeking the girl's parental blessing in marriage. But when a fatal car accident puts her folks out of the picture, horrific truths are brought to light that lead to a vicious vow of vengeance.

REVIEW: It's never a good sign when a movie takes more than five years to be completed. Quite the opposite in fact, and indeed, such an arduous production slate proved to be a harbinger of utter doom for Darin Scott's SOMETHING WICKED...a cut-and-paste hodgepodge of uninspired, nonsensical dross. More egregious than that, I found, is how SOMETHING WRETCHED, excuse me, SOMETHING WICKED, is unabashedly billed as Brittany Murphy's final movie. Okay. But the inclusion of a shot of her pounding a fistful of pills in front of a bathroom mirror? That supposed to be life imitating art? Well excuse the pissed-off pun, but it's hard to swallow. A shame too, because this Scott fella actually wrote and produced a number of gritty genre joints back in the late-80s and mid-90s I am fully down with (STEPFATHER 2, MENACE TO SOCIETY, TALES FROM THE HOOD, etc.) Alas, SOMETHING WICKED is nowhere close to a single one of those.

As we open, James and Christine are co-ed wannabe newlyweds attending university in Oregon. Ever the traditionalist, James seeks parental blessing of the union from Christine's folks, inviting them to an upscale dinner to pre-pop the question. The folks balk though, wisely citing the fact their daughter is far too young to consider such a lifelong commitment. Now never the traditionalist, James nefariously plots to punt the parents out of the picture by, get this, arranging to drive the foursome home from the restaurant in a torrential downpour...only to stop and feign car trouble while straddling an active train-track. Yup, young James engineers his would-be-parents-in-law's death by putting them in the path of an oncoming locomotive. With he and his bride-to-be in the car as well! As you might imagine, this kicks off a stupefying string of events whose impish implausibility is only outmatched by its induced apathy.

Why do I say that? Because there is zero mystery regarding James' murderous intent at the beginning of the flick, which absolutely MUST be there when the film takes an incredible (and incredibly frustrating) turn in the final third. You see, after Christine awakes in a hospital and is met by her brother Bill (James Patrick Stewart) and his wife Susan (Murphy), she starts suffering strange hallucinations of her dead father and such. Is she suffering deep-seeded grief? Severe PTSD? Is she truly possessed by some kind of demonic entity? Bollocks! Not only is this story strand completely abandoned as red-herring, but when the flick begins to unspool its asinine revenge plot in the second half, it's supposed to come as some great revelatory twist. But because we already know James is a guilty sumbitch richly deserving of comeuppance...the thrust of the so called twist falls flatter than Harry Ford in a single-engine P-22!

If this all sounds confusing, trust me, you don't know the half. The flick, said to be inspired by true events, is riddled with dizzying flashbacks and disjointed jump-forwards, which makes it damn near impossible to follow, never mind truly care about. The movie wants to be a sappy romantic thriller, a demonic possession movie and a vengeful slasher joint all at once, but never fully commits to or executes either facet to satisfying ends. Nope, what we have is a movie that feels stitched together, patch by discolored patch, over the course of half a decade. The result is a muddled mess that is devoid of tonal consistencies and cogently told storylines. Makes sense I suppose for feature first time scribes in Joe Colleran and Joseph Mungra. With poor plotting and dopey dialogue comes subpar acting all around, at times painfully so, with Murphy believe it or not delivering the most credible turn in the entire cast. As far as graphic horror goes, the gory deaths in the film are almost entirely one-dimensional, with one grisly shotgun blast to the dome standing out among a handful of vehicular slaughters. Based on true events or not, nothing here is inspired!

I mean it. Outside of some above average cinematography for its paltry $3 million budget and an always lush Pacific Northwest setting, SOMETHING WICKED is an unintelligible muck. The story is all over the place, the acting lends zero credence to any of the characters, the one-note automotive violence is way too repetitive, the ending is completely incongruous with what came before it, and to make matters worse, the whole thing is not very scary. Most infuriating though is how the film is shamelessly marketed as Brittany Murphy's final movie, yet cheaply, exploitatively depicts the ill-fated actress downing a handful of pharmaceuticals during one scene. Tasteless! Not that I have any personal stake in it, but she probably deserves a better lasting memory than SOMETHING WICKED. So do you!

Extra Tidbit: SOMETHING WICKED hits DVD and VOD on March 17th.



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