With the multitude of streaming options and buying options available to the consumer and the thousands of films that come out every year, there are some films that, understandably, get a little lost in the fray. From The Witch and The Lobster in 2016 to Children of Men and The Descent, tons of films get “discovered” later in their life. Pyewacket may be destined to be one of those films.
The good news, of course, is that most “underrated” flicks tend to be really good films, and Pyewacket is no exception to this concept. While is does have it’s problems and is a little predictable in spots, Pyewacket also gives us some masterful strokes and solid acting, courtesy Laurie Holden and Nicole Munoz. Pyewacket received middling reviews from critics and audiences alike, however I feel it is worth another look.
While it is no Heredetary, the film does fit into the same “high concept” horror film genre as the former. Director Adam MacDonald, known for his 2014 man vs wild horror flick Backcountry, guides Pyewacket along to its ultimate, unexpected (in some ways) conclusion.
Leah (Munoz) and her mother (Holden) are dealing with the death of Leah’s father, though both in drastically different ways. Leah and her friends take an interest in the occult, while Mrs. Reyes drinks and distances herself from her daughter. Leah reminds Reyes too much of her lost husband. This rift reaches a fever pitch as Leah, distraught over a fight with her mother, performs a ritual in the woods, asking the demon Pyewacket to come and murder her mom.
Soon, she regrets her decision as strange incidents begin to convince her that it wasn’t all make believe. She contacts the author of a book on the occult, and he tells her that if she did indeed raise Pyewacket, it will manifest in ways that will seem innocuous. Desperate, believing that she really has raised a demon, Leah heads to her house to try and reverse the spell. But all is not well at home, and she soon comes to understand that when dealing with demons, you pay a price as well.
What the film does exceedingly well is mount tension and pay it off. The arguments between mother and daughter are visceral, and they escalate to a point that makes the viewer uncomfortable. The viewer will find themselves on one side or the other of these fights, and feeling bad for both parties. There are some things that keen-eyed viewers will pick up on right away, which don’t ultimately spoil the ending, but will have them nodding their heads in agreement, as if they had written the script themselves.
Overall, this is a satisfying, disturbing, high-concept horror film that leaves you wondering if what you saw was really what happened. Recommended.
Rich Davenport graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul Minnesota with a B.A. in Mass Communication. He is a lifelong comicbook reader, a film fan and a hardcore video gamer. He also makes a lot of funny faces in pictures, much to his wife’s chagrin.