Pyewacket DVD Review
Written by Ryan Holloway
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Written and directed by Adam MacDonald
2018, 90 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD & Blu-ray released on April 23rd 2018. On Digital release now.
Nicole Muñoz as Leah
Laurie Holden as Mrs. Reyes
Chloe Rose as Janice
Eric Osborne as Aaron
After critical acclaim for his short films, as well as his first feature Black Country, director Adam MacDonald has deservedly gained more positive energy for Pyewacket, a new horror that feels like one of the first to learn the lessons from 2015’s It Follows.
Although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of David Robert Mitchell’s modern-horror classic it does a great job of going for the slow burn and giving the audience a chance to get to know the characters before the horror unfolds.
After the death of her father, teenager Leah (Muñoz) is forced to move away from her friends by her grieving mother Mrs. Reyes (Holden) who needs the fresh start to banish the memories of her dead husband. When her mother’s trauma-based depression and alcoholism lead to yet another heated argument, Leah turns to black magic to perform a ritual to invoke the titular Pyewacket to kill her. She soon feels guilty about this decision as things start to turn around after the move and their relationship strengthens. Once she realises what she has done, could it be too late to reverse the spell?
What could have been yet another derivative teenage horror is so much more than that, mostly due to some fantastic camerawork and some truly effective sound design. It’s these creative decisions that give a real sense of fear and panic, which builds beautifully, and horrifically, as the witch is slowly revealed across a modest 90 minute run time.
The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden is truly fantastic, and brings a very real sense of realism to the role. Her portrayal of a parent dealing with the loss of her life partner and bringing up a teenager is so relatable that it grounds the film and once the more supernatural elements start to take hold of the story it feels legitimately terrifying and the sense of dread is very real.
Nicole Muñoz also gives a great performance giving Leah an air of vunerability under an umbrella of angst and teenage confusion. What is refreshing is that Pyewacket never really invites us to side with either mother or daughter, instead making us feel for both of them equally and wanting them to resolve their issues, which is why after the ritual has been performed you feel real fear for them both as their pain is played with such palpable emotion.
Although the film leaves you wanting more, it would truly be sad to see a bunch of cheap sequels as this feels like something far more special. And if we’ve learned anything from such films it's that it's best to count to ten and take some deep breaths after an argument rather than invoke an evil spirit. Nobody talks anymore!