The Diva Del Mar Reviews Wildling
As an avid fan of genre film, this year’s line up at SXSW has been a delight. I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of Wildling as my first screening of the second day. The film was introduced by the director Fritz Bhöm and in his own words, he presented it to us “as a dark fairy tale.” The movie lives up to this beautifully, with more horror elements than I expected and a fabulous esthetic that I absolutely loved.
Wildling is about a young woman who since a little child, has been kept prisoner in a basement of a rural home by a man she calls, “Daddy.” Daddy, played by the sensational character actor Brad Dourif, keeps the girl, Anna, brainwashed with lies about the outside world using hypnosis and constant mind games. Anna, performed wonderfully Bel Powley, grows up through the years in her prison, and when puberty finally hits, Daddy takes some drastic measures to keep her as his little girl. This leads her to finally be freed from her basement, and she goes home with the local sheriff Ellen Cooper and her brother, Ray, played by Liv Tyler and Collin Kelly-Sordelet, until authorities find her next-of-kin. As Anna now has the chance to fully develop and as her body shakes free of Daddy’s abuse, interesting changes begin to happen leading to a fun genre-bender adventure.
What I noticed first about the movie is the dreamlike esthetic of it. Even in the eerier scenes, the filmmakers give us a gorgeous perspective. The movie has a rich palette and fantastic set design. Every scene feels magical and the creepy factor is buffered with the wonderful style of storytelling. There is a keen sense of artistry and magic in the way we experience Anna discovering the outside world, even when things get intense or gory. Bel Powley herself is a delight to watch on the screen. Without saying much, she emits curiosity, courage, innocence, and a wonderous sense of wisdom that is on point with her character. Anna is a joy to get to know, especially if you like your protagonists to have a wild side. Daddy is a superb villain and Dourif just never fails to deliver top caliber work.
I enjoyed every minute of the film, but I would be remiss, if I didn’t point out some major technical flaws that seem to become more prominent in the second half of the film. While the story is solid, the acting good, and the overall feel of the film is sensational, the editing is not. Composition is strong, but during many transitions, scenes end abruptly, jumping to a completely different feel and setting without warning. There is a lack of a polished flow particularly involving the action shots or at the end of intense scenes. It almost felt like material was cut out. Perhaps the filmmakers just didn’t get the shot they wanted during production and ran out of resources. Also, continuity was not well maintained in day versus night scenes. I can recall two or maybe three scenes when the sky turned dark from one shot to the next or vice versa without warning. It was disorienting, and it threw off my sense of timing in the story when there should have been a sense of urgency. Most of these problems happened during the final act as the stakes were high, and the story needed to move along quickly. I didn’t notice any problems in the first half, so I am not sure where things went wrong for the filmmakers.
Even with the editing problems, the movie finishes with a supremely satisfying conclusion. I was mesmerized by Wildling and my imagination was swept into the lovely tale. I think we all need more fairy tales in our lives, even dark ones that aren’t afraid to show their teeth. Thank you, Fritz Böhm for a wondrous story and I can’t wait to see what you do next! Wildling comes out on April 13th with a limited theatrical release as part of IFC Midnight.
Thanks for reading,
The Diva Del Mar