Quick Hit: A fun twist on the normal exorcism story, with some real fear built in.
Teenagers and parents will almost always have times where they don’t get along. But sometimes those fights run much deeper. Pyewacket takes the typical teenage tantrum – “I hate you and wish you were dead!” and gives it a fresh breath, with a bit of an occult twist.
Leah (Nicole Muñoz) is just trying to survive her life without her father after his passing. So is her mother, played by Laurie Holden (of The Walking Dead). But whereas her mother has decided that a change in scenery to the mountains would be most effective, Leah has embraced a gothic look as well as an interest in the occult. This has increased the friction between mother and daughter, and leads to the ultimate breaking point – a fight that pushes Leah to drastic action. She decides to call forth Pyewacket, a demon, in order to hunt her mother.
Some of the most effective (not necessarily the best) scenes in this movie happen between Muñoz and Holden. They really embrace the roles and show how devastating the loss of a balancing parent in a relationship can be. Holden is especially effective, alternating verbal barbs filled with venom and intense motherly care throughout the movie. But despite many writers focusing on this as the best point of the movie, I think at times they rush the scenes and don’t quite give them the room to stretch that they need.
I honestly think the best scene in the movie is Leah’s original ritual. It’s shot in an extremely personal manner, allowing young Muñoz to fill the frame. It also mixes things up, and we don’t immediate see a monster. I like that quite a bit, because it leads to a lot of good ambiguity later on in the film. The build up to the final act, is solid.
The film has some downsides though. It takes a bit to get going, which serves a purpose (building up the mother daughter relationship to its current point) but doesn’t help the speed. I also thought there was a bit too much with the “Occult Expert”. It just serves as an exposition dump a couple different times, and gives Leah a false light in the darkness. I would have preferred her to go it alone and learn to deal with her own problems. After all, isn’t that what growing up and moving away from your parents is?
That being said, Pyewacket is still an effective horror film. I think it’s a great fit into the family horror genre that seems so prolific right now, and I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"