Wired Shut, 2021.
Directed by Alexander Sharp.
Starring Natalie Sharp, Blake Stadel, and Behtash Fazlali.
A writer with his jaw wired shut is visited by his estranged daughter, and his life is immediately put in danger.
Some movies should come with a warning that the contents stored on the shiny disc inside the box with the creepy slasher-inspired artwork on the front may not necessarily bear any resemblance to said image, or indeed to your expectations after having consumed the artwork and DVD blurb that will no doubt convince you that you are about to watch a gory and brutal throwback to the glory days of torture porn with a unique and unexpected twist on the tried-and-tested slasher formula.
Alexander Sharp’s debut feature Wired Shut is one such – if not the definitive – example of this misleading tactic, as what you get instead of the riotous bloodbath that the premise teases you with is 90 minutes of mumbling, stumbling, virtually bloodless home invasion theatrics as our three characters sort of move from room to room not really doing very much at all.
The characters in question are Reed Rodney (Blake Stadel), a novelist who is confined to his secluded home after an accident that resulted in his jaw being wired shut, leaving him unable to make any noise whatsoever. One day he gets an out-of-the-blue visit from his estranged daughter Emmy (Natalie Sharp), who arrives seemingly with an ulterior motive than caring for her injured father. Naturally, it isn’t long – although it feels like it – before old grudges come to the surface, things are said and secrets are revealed, right before a third person arrives to really mess things up, or at least confirm what you’ve probably already worked out.
Wired Shut is not the movie you think it’s going to be but not in a good way. The artwork, blurb and even the concept may scream ‘SLASHER!’ but the reality is that this is a very flat, lifeless and tedious attempt at making an arthouse horror movie, something that is slow and ponderous, and designed to make you think about what you are seeing whilst a minimalist score plays over drawn-out scenes of characters brooding, shouting and then hiding.
And whilst there is something to be said for the concept, the setting and the lighting, not at any point in the first 80 minutes does anything even remotely tense or exciting happen, which may not necessarily be a problem in certain – i.e. longer – movies but when the running time is 90 minutes that doesn’t give the filmmakers much time to give you what you came for (or not, as the case may be), and when the jaw being wired shut element does come into play you can almost hear the big reveal theme from the Saw movies playing in your head but that is where it stays as Wired Shut delivers its final (only?) punch with all the style and surprise of an ending that was quickly written and crammed into the script because somebody realised that the horror fans who are likely to watch this will want more than a teary family make-up session and some more incoherent mumbling after having sat through the previous 80 minutes of tedium.
If you pick up a copy of Wired Shut based on its cover art then prepare to be disappointed as that is not the movie you are going to get. If, however, you like slow-burning cat-and-mouse/home invasion thrillers with a twist then also prepare to be disappointed because as much as Wired Shut wants to be taken seriously as a dark and violent mood piece with slasher leanings, it isn’t that movie either. It’s too long, too ponderous with nothing happening for long periods of time, and when it does the effect is as minimal as the writing, committing the worst crime a movie can commit and that is being boring. Still, nice DVD cover.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★