Directed by Adam MacDonald.
Starring Nicole Munoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose and Eric Osborne.
After the death of her father, teenager Leah becomes fascinated by the occult but her relationship with her mother becomes strained. She is increasingly resentful when her mother decides they need a fresh start in a new home and the possibility looms of changing school and losing her friends. In a fit of anger, she takes matters into her own hands and conjures up a malevolent spirit to get her own back on her mother.
Definition first. Pyewacket is a malevolent spirit, originally identified by the Witchfinder General in 17th century England but, for the purposes of Adam MacDonald’s horror, it’s crossed the Atlantic and is conjured up by unhappy teenager Leah (Nicole Munoz). Because she wants to teach her mom a lesson.
That’s simplifying matters. As Leah discovers from an obliging expert on the occult, Pyewacket is also extremely manipulative: it turns on the person who’s called on them, after doing their bidding of course. When she met the expert at a book signing, he warned her not to become too interested in occult rituals, but she’s a teenager and that means she takes no notice. In fact, she takes more notice of a greetings card in a gift shop which tells her “Be careful what you wish for.” She’s a teenager, after all. Trouble is, by that stage, it’s too late.
By way of explanation for her fascination with the occult – it extends to her clothes, make up and posters in her bedroom – we learn that Leah’s father has died. A recurring theme for horror at the moment, with the same plot device popping up in Truth Or Dare. She’s turned to the occult for comfort, while her mother (Laurie Holden) has turned to the bottle and then decides they should start anew in a new house. One out in the country with a wood conveniently nearby. Cue lots of creaking, skeletal trees filmed upwards from ground level and the perfect location for casting spells.
A low budget horror from Canada, this is a slow burner, one with the potential for some genuine shocks but which ultimately backs off from delivering them. Director MacDonald seems to toy with audience, building up their expectations and, most of the time, letting them down. When he comes close to satisfying them, it’s with some clever editing and sound design that moves the action straight into the next scene. It’s smart, but it’s hollow and still an anti-climax. When it comes to creating a sense of panic, he uses that familiar jarring hand held camera, but to better effect and it’s the closest he gets to giving the hairs on the back of your neck that longed-for prickle. Sadly, in what should be a spectacularly shocking climax, all the let-downs from earlier in the film come home to roost and it simply doesn’t have the necessary punch.
Despite that, Pyewacket is a decent enough little horror and its small screen release (digital on 16th April, DVD on 23rd) will intensify its sense of menace and foreboding. It has all the ingredients to shock the pants off you. But mixed together, they make for a less than satisfying brew .
Pyewacket is available to download from April 16th and on DVD/Blu-Ray from April 23rd.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.