Review: Surprisingly tame horror from Wildling

Bel Powley as Anna
Bel Powley as Anna

Matt Adcock reviews Wildling (15), directed by Fritz Bohm

Here’s an unusual tale of a young girl, Anna (Bel Powley), who lives locked up in a room by her daddy (Brad Dourif). When ‘daddy’ can’t stand it anymore and tries to kill himself Anna winds up in the custody of Sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler), but is completely unprepared for the real world.

All her life Anna has been taught to fear the Wildling, a creature with sharp teeth, claws, covered in black hair – but maybe, just maybe she shares a little more in common with the monster than most girls?

Wildling is another addition to the teenage body horror genre, a kind of werewolf-em-up version of Teeth or Carrie – in fact if you have seen the similarly themed Ginger Snaps, you’ll know what to expect.

Pitched as a kind of dark fairy tale, Wildling creaks along in a horribly predictable manner. Once free of the hormone-suppressing effects of daddy, Anna hit puberty with a vengeance.

The cinematography is classy and the cast go about the credibility straining plot with aplomb but there aren’t enough positives to balance out the negatives overall. Tyler and Powley are good together in their sort of surrogate mother / daughter relationship. Fairing less well is Collin Kelly-Sordelet as Cooper's younger brother and potential love interest for our wild heroine.

What really isn’t so great is the jumbled plot, which jumps around in tone and mood and never really feels coherent enough. Wildling is oddly unscary for a horror effort - there are a few icky moments and some gore but the rushed ending leaves viewers with a ‘meh’ than an ‘arrggghh’.

Anna’s wide-eyed navigation of her powers, her sexual awaking and her blood lust are handled in cursory style, the mythos of the supernatural elements is muddled and yet there is something worth checking for fans of fables tinged with horror elements. I wanted to like Wildling more than I did and when I was more shocked by the weird snores of my pal whom I saw this with – rather than anything on screen – I realised that this wasn’t going to be a classic addition to the scary movie canon.

Wild at heart but tame where it counts.