Giallo is an Italian 20th-century genre of literature and film, which in Italian denotes thrillers, typically of the crime fiction and mystery subgenres. For Italian audiences, a thriller, no matter where it is produced, may be labelled as a giallo.

 

True horror fans recognize Giallos as the precursors to the American slasher film.  They featured copious amounts of nudity, frequently incoherent storylines and gratuitously sleazy gore.  The reason this relates to Something Wicked, is because Something Wicked is a hot mess.  There is gnarly gore and lurid sexuality, but there is also a production quality and blandness that just don’t mix.  I can only imagine what the production process for Something Wicked must have been like.  They were making a low budget horror movie and then Brittany Murphy walked into the room; Suddenly, shit got real.

Young lovers, Christine (Shantel VanSanten) and James (John Robinson) want to get married.  Christine has just graduated high school and James is working hard at the local lumber mill.  Unfortunately Christine’s parents think she is too young for marriage.  Things change after a horrible car accident kills both of her parents.  Suddenly marriage seems like an option until terrible circumstances start to befall the couple.  Christine is stalked by a masked psycho.  James is nearly killed in a hit and run.  Christine’s sister-in-law, Susan (Brittany Murphy) is a psychiatrist who decides to get to the bottom of things and try to determine once and for all, what caused that horrible accident?

I was confused for most of Something Wicked.  The film is a blend of about two or three genres.  As I mentioned there are moments of shocking violence like when we see a character’s head blown apart.  There is also sleazy sex.  There’s a chase scene that appears to be ripped out of your average serial killer flick.  Another scene reminds you of the slasher rebirth of the late nineties. What’s amazing is that everything is done well.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Something Wicked, even though I had no clue what the hell was going on.

 I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Something Wicked, even though I had no clue what the hell was going on.

And here is where we circle back around to that Giallo analogy.  Many Italian mysteries or horror films that I have seen make no sense, but they’re extremely entertaining.  Something Wicked is this way.  Characters do silly contradicting things.  Brothers watch sisters strip to their underwear.  New characters walk into scenes with no introduction.  None of it makes sense, but I came to realize that didn’t matter.  The film is a blast.  Warning:  It doesn’t all make sense in the end either.

Something Wicked is Brittany Murphy’s last film.  It was also completed in 2011.  Usually this isn’t a good sign.  The good news is that Murphy is effortlessly charismatic, but her character feels forced into the movie.   I also had trouble recognizing her in the metric ton of makeup that she wears in the movie.  In one “weepy” scene it runs comically down her face and smears everywhere.

The rest of the cast is serviceable.  There are a bunch of other characters but a lot of them don’t seem to be aware of each other.  At times it didn’t feel like they were all in the same movie.  It was nice to see Julian Morris (Sorority Row remake and Donkey Punch) again.  I’ve always been fond of him, here he is playing a naive young kid.

Julian Morris

Something Wicked is a pleasant surprise.  I can’t recommend you rush out and see the film in good conscience, but you will find something to like in it.   It’s gaudy and sleazy and schizophrenic.  It’s “INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS”!  Don’t expect a great movie, expect a good horror movie.

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