An unnerving, austere foray into horror comes from the maker of The Strangers that is not so scary of a slow-burn. But, less of an infuriating, nihilistic experience than that well-crafted home-invasion thriller which starred Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.
Bryan Bertino used his Lone Star State homestead for The Dark and the Wicked which could be a kindred spirit of this year’s Relic and a superior Hereditary when it comes to the familial and confronting mortality.
An unwelcoming mother (Julie Oliver-Touchs) and a bedridden father nearing death is what awaits sister Louise (Marin Ireland of The Irishman) and brother Michael (Michael Abbott, Jr.) who left the remote goat farm. As they say, let the bleating begin.
An eerily silent domicile has something going on in it and around it as the siblings observe what has been palliative for their parents in their isolation Votive candles and crucifixes cause the non-religious on-lookers to be a bit nonplussed.
A certain malevolence is on the prairie as folks will become increasingly riled; even the reaction may be similar at times to The Strangers with a little recoiling and flinching. Even as the shadowy, demonic apparitions burst intermittently on the gloominess with an occasional lurid flourish.
The interspersing of the sharp and contemplative isn’t always a heady mix even as Ireland and Abbott are committed to what is lurking and has been overwhelming for what howls and creaks in the Texas night.
Look for a handyman (Tom Nowicki) and an admonishing cleric played by veteran Xander Berleley (remembered from the urban-legend fright film Candyman as the straying husband professor) in what aims to draw an arbitrary, inscrutable supernatural aura. Which wallows in what shocks and doesn’t favorite orange vegetable.