The horror film on Netflix doesn’t expand on the genre elements, resulting in an undercooked film
Three years after British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari’s Bafta-winning debut Under the Shadow, comes Wounds, based on The Visible Filth, anovella by Nathan Ballingrud.
The film, which opens with a quote from Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novel about his journey into the Congo Free State, is incidentally set in New Orleans, which has a long history with the occult.
Will (Armie Hammer), a bartender at Rosie’s (located in what appears to be the deadest part of the city), is a talker and a drinker, slugging shots with the regulars, including Alicia (Zazie Beetz), who comes in with her boyfriend Jeffrey (Karl Glusman). There is also Eric (Brad William Henke), another regular who works on a rig and goes on a bender when he isn’t. Sure enough, a fight breaks out between Eric and another guy. Eric gets a bottle shoved in his cheek and a group of underage students film the whole thing, scuttling when Will informs them that the cops are on the way. The students, however, leave behind a cell phone, something that Will realises only after he gets to the home he shares with Carrie (Dakota Johnson).
From this point onwards, things start to get strange but only up to a point. Will watches a disturbing video on the phone and answers texts from a guy called Garrett who pleads with Will to help him (Will figured out the pattern lock based on the smudge marks apparently).
- Cast: Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz, Dakota Johhnson
- Director: Babak Anvari
- Storyline: A New Oreleans bartender finds strange things occurring after he looks at disturbing material on someone else’s phone
- Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes
Will soon starts feeling a presence in the house, starts seeing cockroaches everywhere and gets visions based on the video he saw.
The film, however, suffers from trying to tell two stories that are tonally different at the same time. It focusses on the relationships that Will has with the two women, but doesn’t expand on any of the genre elements. For example, there is only one line on what strange practice the students are into.
As for the cast, Armie Hammer is very good as a guy who is getting increasingly jumpy and losing the ‘niceness’ that marked him at first even if he was always clearly “blasé”. So is Zazie Beetz though she doesn’t have that much to do. The weak link is Dakota Johnson, with the interactions between her and Hammer stilted at best.
The end is intended to make the audience react and it seems like the director wanted the film to work as an analogy of some kind. Unfortunately, by this point, you realise you actually don’t care that much.
New Orleans is the setting but we barely get to see New Orleans. The film makes no reference to the city’s history with the occult.
Carrie takes the trouble to cook breakfast and then barely eats it. Oh well, at least Will seemed to enjoy it.
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