August 6, 2018  (Web Review)

Wildling

Shout! Factory, 92 min., R, DVD: $16.99, Blu-ray: $22.99, Aug. 7

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

In an era obsessed with zombie apocalypses, werewolves have become unfashionable, but Fritz Bohm’s Wildling offers an intriguing spin on the hairy, hoary old genre. Daddy (Brad Dourif) tells horrifying bedtime stories to young Anna about a wildling—a beast with sharp teeth that devours children. It is to protect her, he explains, that he keeps Anna in a basement room where the doorknob is rigged with an electric charge. Daddy also treats Anna with painful injections that he claims are medicinal but actually obstruct her maturation process, so while growing externally into a young woman (Bel Powley), she remains childlike in other physical respects. When Anna is finally freed from Daddy’s clutches and placed in the care of the local sheriff (Liv Tyler), she exhibits extraordinary changes as the effect of the injections wears off. Wildling is both a parable of a girl’s coming-of-age and a metaphor for female empowerment, but also a genre piece offering a revisionist take on the werewolf legend that strips it of tropes concerning silver bullets and full moons while serving up a mythology based on Darwinian principles—which might be no less absurd but is at least different. Wildling devolves into a tedious chase film in the last act, but until then it is a pretty shrewd horror thriller. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)