Writer/director Adam MacDonald’s (the little seen 2014 horror BACKCOUNTRY) new feature is another horror but seen from the point of view of teenager, Leah (Nicole Monoz).
Leah is the typical teenager in high school, as the film reveals at the start. She is happy, nuanced and has issues with her parents, in this case her mother after her father’s death. The mother (Laurie Holden) is falling apart, in depression and boozing, as in the words of Leah: “I don’t know what I am coming home to any more,” as the mother literally begs for Leah to offer her support in dealing high her inner demons. When she decides to uproot the family to a cabin out in the country, Leah gets visibly upset, though as she tries her best to hide it. But when the mother says she cannot stand seeing her father in her, Leah loses it. She conjures the demon PYEWACKET to do away with her mother. Leah tells her school friends who dabble in the occult, but they are shocked that Leah would want to kill her mother.
Things take an awkward turn when mother becomes more tolerable and asks Leah for her forgiveness for things said and done. Leah want to undo the black magic. In a slight turn of events, she invites her friend, Janice to stay the night. Janice ends up freaking out that night, though no reason is given why.
This is a case of paranoia versus actual demonic horror. Are there really footsteps in the night and monsters or are they all part of Leah’s imagination? This is where MacDonald’s film works best. There is nothing supernatural that occurs in the first half of the film. When a monster is shown in the second half, the audience is still unsure whether the creature is real or Leah’s imagination.
The film contains a few loose ends – the main one being the convenient forgetting of providing the reason Janice got scared away from the house that night of the visit.
Though the film is a full Canadian feature, the film is clear not to include any Canadian town names. The town and school that Leah attend are not named and neither is the county. The town whee Leah and the mother escapes from could be any American or Canadian state. This would mean that the film stands a better chance at American distribution. But Leah attends a book signing event and consults with the occult book’s author from the U.S. So, all things assumed equal, one would assume the film be set the U.S.
The film makes good use of sound (example the crescendo of traffic noise) for scare effects. The cinematography (the woods with no leaves) by Christian Bielz also adds an eerie creepiness.
The trouble with this film is that is is so believable – that the audience would almost wish that there would be more weird shit in the film, credible or not. The film also questions whether a curse can be undone, a question never dealt with in other horror films.
PYEWACKET ends up a solid scare flick but it could do with more gore and violence.