Of all the films in this year’s 8 Films to Die For lineup, THE WICKED WITHIN is perhaps the most unique. The film, directed by Jay Alaimo and written by Stephen Wallis, takes elements of your typical possession movie and infuses elements of a police procedural as well as a mystery-thriller into the mix. The film is about a family reunion that takes a wrong turn and is visited by a demon who possesses one of the family members… or does it? As the night goes on, all of the family members’ deepest secrets are revealed and no one seems to be free of sin. Is there really a possession, or is one of the family members using possession to take revenge against the others in the family?
THE WICKED WITHIN stars Sonja Kinski (daughter of Nastassja Kinski, so you know she’s a knock out) as Maggie. She works for the same company as Hannah (Michele Hicks). Maggie stops over at Hannah’s house one evening to say hello only to find that Hannah and her estranged family are having a mini family reunion. Hannah insists that Maggie join them. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!! Dinner starts off nice enough. There’s Michael (Enzo Cilenti), Hannah’s husband; Bethany (Sienna Guillory), Hannah’s sister; Luke (Gianni Capaldi), Bethany’s husband; and Jean (Karen Austin), Bethany and Hannah’s mother. The beginning of the evening starts out nice enough, but as the wine and alcohol freely flow, the secrets of the various family members are revealed.
The family also experienced a tragedy not too long ago. Hannah and Michael’s three year old daughter died in a household accident. This, it seems, is what originally tore the family apart. Now that some time has passed, all the family members have come together to try and get beyond it. But as the evening goes on, evidence suggests that the dead three year old might not be ready to move on quite yet. Odd things begin to happen around the house and especially in the dead daughter’s old bedroom. After Bethany visits in the bedroom, she is attacked and looks like she is raped by an unseen presence. This is where everything goes pear-shaped. Once Bethany starts to exhibit signs of possession, they call in their friend, Samara (Sarah Lassez), a gifted psychic and mediium. After being in the house for only a few minutes, Samara knows without a doubt there is some kind of presence–and it might not be friendly.
The rest of the film is the family and Maggie trying to figure out what is going on and if indeed Bethany is truly possessed (there are questions about Bethany’s sanity). The story is told in lengthly flashbacks as Dr. Woods (Eric Roberts), who works for the police department, is called in to sort through all the bizarre claims as to what went on in the house. Woods believes he has everything figured out, but writer Wallis throws us some curveballs and keeps us guessing.
THE WICKED WITHIN, as mentioned above, is an amalgam of many genres, and it worked for me. There were times when I thought I had everything figured out, just like Dr. Woods, only to be proven completely wrong. Wallis does a really nice job navigating the story and keeping everything in focus. There were a couple times when I thought Wallis blew it and the plot became derailed, but I was proven wrong. Wallis has a strong grasp on the material here and really makes it work. Besides the writing, the actors involved were fantastic. There’s really strong acting by everyone involved and I was especially impressed with Sienna Guillory’s (Bethany) performance. She had a very demanding role, both physically and emotionally, and she pulled it off beautifully.
THE WICKED WITHIN was a nice surprise. I was expecting just another standard possession flick, but got so much more. With elements of a murder mystery-thriller and of a police procedural, THE WICKED WITHIN was elevated to something uniquely original. There was also a good amount of the red stuff along the way. With a satisfying ending that didn’t cop out, THE WICKED WITHIN is a winner. Check this one out.
Director: Jay Alaimo
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 5.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer