Plot: Anna (Bel Powley) was raised in seclusion and instilled with deep fear, as her caretaker, known as Daddy (Brad Dourif) warned her of endless dangers in the outside world. As he raises her, he gives her mysterious injections and tells her of a being known as the wildling. The wildling stalks the woods around the isolated home where Anna is kept, so if she ventures outside on her own, she is certain to be snatched up and suffer a horrific fate. But when Daddy kills himself, Anna is forced to leave home if she wants to survive and she winds up in a nearby town. There she encounters Ellen (Liv Tyler), the town’s sheriff and since she has nowhere to go, Anna is taken in by Ellen until a more permanent home can be found. But is Anna capable of living in the normal world and is the wildling somewhere in the darkness, waiting to take her?
Entertainment Value: The horror genre has a lot of movies that focus on coming of age themes, so this is familiar ground, but Wildling adds some dark, fresh twists to ensure it never feels like a retread. I wasn’t all that taken with the narrative, but it is passable and has some nice turns, while the visuals and atmosphere tended to be what kept me invested in this one. I also like how Wildling has a dark fairy tale vibe at times, or at least some elements that make it seems at home in that world. This is rooted in the fable-like narrative, but the general atmosphere makes it feel like one of the darker, unvarnished fairy tales, the wild girl and the woods type stuff. The creepiness is consistent, even once Anna leaves the woods and her presence in the outside world just amplifies her dark traits, so the tension ratchets up throughout. The cast is quite also, with Liv Tyler and Brad Dourif in strong roles while Bel Powley steals the show as the nearly feral Anna, in a bold performance. The movie does have pacing issues and the narrative isn’t great, but Wildling still thrives despite those concerns. If you’re a fan of horror movies or dark fairy tales, give this one a look.
There’s a clear theme of female sexuality at work here, as you’d expect from a coming of age story, but there’s minimal sexual content. A little skin can be seen here and there, with some bare breasts and ass visible at times, but shadows and other obscuring elements often come into play when Anna is naked. This one has some violence and by turn some bloodshed, but not an over the top amount and when crimson is used, it is with purpose. A little blood is seen from various attacks, but not in great detail, while a dead deer is gutted and on showcase. Wildling also has some gun shout wounds and the most memorable splash of bloodshed involves a stomach torn open, with some nice gore displayed. The dialogue is competent, but the movie takes a dark and serious approach, so wild or ridiculous lines are minimal. Some of Anna’s interactions are humorous and awkward, but otherwise, no wackiness in the dialogue arena. In terms of general craziness, Anna is quite literally a wild young woman and the movie explores some dark, memorable elements, but the serious tone ensures over the top mayhem and such are kept to a minimum.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: The Blu-ray release from IFC Midnight via Scream Factory looks excellent, which is crucial in this case, as Wildling has a lot of dark scenes and it would be easy for those moments to seem muddled. But contrast is spot on and detail is strong, even in the darkest of sequences. The image is crisp and clean, as you’d expect from such a recent release, so fans should be thrilled here. The extras on tap include some deleted scenes, outtakes, and the film’s trailer.