Pyewacket dropped in Canada during the Toronto International Film Festival last year, followed by a limited release in December. As of March of this year, it hit the rest of the world and slipped under my radar until June when one of our local eclectic theaters announced their showing. The poster alone was enough to get me curious. The image of the bloody hand and strand of yarn mixed with the black metal font and subtle dead human lying in the background had me hooked. Metal and horror has gone awry in the past but it will always be enough to get a watch out of me. I remember my eyes going straight from the poster to my phone so that I could pull up a trailer. After the first 30 seconds, we’re looking at a high school girl who’s lost her father and dives deep into the world of the occult, listens to metal, has friends who all wear Blackcraft, and a creepy demon was about to be conjured. It couldn’t be further up my alley. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a sucker for a good story and culty shit. This one had made it to the top of my watch list.
Though it wasn’t perfect, I’d have to say that I had a great time watching it. It held a dark, grunge-rock aesthetic throughout the film and decent acting all throughout. The teenagers who ran the film didn’t totally suck, much like other cringy high-school dramas. I felt like I could genuinely relate to each of them at some point during the movie. With the exception of that one douchey friend, Rob, the small crew of outcasts seemed like people I would’ve liked to spend time with in High School. In Rob’s defense, he seemed like the forcibly written in character placed there to stop the group from going full goth Goonies.
The leading girl, Nicole Muñoz, definitely won’t be a scream queen anytime soon but her acting was very believable for a high school girl who’s about to lose everything.
The visual effects were all pretty solid as well. They definitely used the dark and shallow depth of field to their advantage when dealing with the demon more than I would have liked, and the end scene where [SPOILER] Leah is being questioned about her mother’s death, her face is significantly burned on the right hand side all the way up to her hairline, yet not a single hair was singed… I don’t know why that bothered me so much.
I do have to say that the concept didn’t feel entirely original. I can’t peg exactly what it was drawing from but I did notice a few similarities to Hereditary which hit the US in June. I would assume that the similarities would then have to be purely coincidental. Demon conjuring, possessed mothers, misunderstood adolescents, spooky shadows and hallucination in the hypnagogic state are pretty significant moments in both films, though the argument could be made that these are simply day-in-the-life coincidences that we all deal with throughout our individual journeys.
Everything down to the DIY ritual scene (which was spooky as fuck) kept my attention and interest in the film. I believe this is a timely film given the sudden explosion of the occult in pop-culture. I’ve heard people call this one a slow-burn, but I don’t believe I would personally drop it in that category. The pacing and character development seemed intentional and necessary. In my opinion, the Canadian Actor gone Writer/Directed, Adam MacDonald nailed this movie. There is not a lot I would change which is surprising when you’re looking at a dude who doesn’t have a huge list under his belt and directs his own writing. We’ve been seeing a lot of first timers on the horror scene and I’m super hopeful for Adam’s career as well as the other dudes and ladies showcasing their creepy bad-assery.
If you’ve been curious about this one, give it a watch! You can stream it on Hulu and rent or buy it everywhere else online. Keep supporting the genre and its writers. I genuinely believe that we’re on track to another good year for horror.
-Josh T. Romero