WRONGED * USA 2019 Dir: Nicholas Holland. 91 mins
Writer-director Nicholas Holland’s Michigan-based revenge movie opens with a grieving Shaun O’Malley releasing his pent-up feelings about his wife’s (Angela Roberts-Johnson) recent miscarriage. A vacation is recommended so, with their two children and other family members, the couple head to a retreat up North where their paths cross with a gang of crooks, in the area to retrieve a stash of counterfeit money.
We’re in familiar territory here, as the grieving family respond to further tragedy and the capturing of loved ones with a swiftly descent into savagery, becoming as capable of extreme violence as the antagonists they face. This means the wooden, self-pitying hero spearheading a rescue mission armed with everything from insect spray and shovels to bone-breaking rocks and power tools. The embarrassingly weak villains share the worst of the expository dialogue though no one is safe from soap opera lines like “We are not broken, we’re just a little lost”. The film mistakes mean-spirited plot turns for tension and emotional impact, with a deaf character threatened swiftly after being introduced and the couple’s youngest kid shot dead before we’ve had any real chance to register his existence. The bursts of second-half sadism offer a throwback to the Guantanamo Bay-era of gruesome American horror, but the more graphic scenes of violence have little impact amidst the poor attempts at profundity, genuinely bad performances and duff soundtrack choices.
Review by Steven West