Review: The Wicked / Cert: 18 / Director: Peter Winther / Screenplay: Michael Vickerman/ Starring: Devon Werkheiser, Nicole Forester, Caitlin Carmichael / Release Date: June 10th
After a little girl is snatched from her bedroom, a group of teenagers decide to sneak into the woods to drink and have sex with one another. Unbeknownst to ringleader Zach, his little brother Max and girlfriend Sammy have snuck along for the ride. As they break into the home of the local wicked witch, it seems as though all may have bitten off more than they can chew. Altogether now, “There's no place like home, there's no place like home...”
With its Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids-style opening animation, young cast and witch villain, The Wicked plays like a horror film for the younger crowd. Perhaps it's because of all the fairy tales, but there's something inherently childish about witches. But with its 18 rating and severe case of potty mouth, The Wicked does not make for family friendly viewing. You'd be better off with Mama instead, which manages to be scarier despite the lower age rating and more pronounced fairy tale vibe.
If Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wizard of Oz and, um, Wicked taught us anything, it's that – one or two exceptions aside – witches aren't very scary. Ding-dong, the witch is dead (insert predictable Margaret Thatcher joke here). Alas, the script and story don't do much to make their villain very scary either. It takes far too long to get going, with the characters spending the first half an hour swearing relentlessly at one another and attempting to hit on their attractive friend. Some of that swearing is amusing (I particularly liked “shut your smelly d*ck hole”) but I would have preferred it if the film had spent more time being good rather than just rude. It's a film that spends more time establishing that its female lead isn't a lesbian than it does any actual threat. Yes, young love is sweet, but shut up and show us the witch. When it all does kick off, it's atmospheric and creepy, but it just takes too long getting there.
For all the swearing, shagging teenagers and eventual violence, there's no hiding from the fact that there's already a much scarier, much more effective witch movie out there, and it was made in 1990. Yes, without a single swear or naked teenager, Roald Dahl's traumatic The Witches effortlessly blows straight-to-DVD trash like this out of the water, even today.