Sundance 2019 Review: Wounds Is Indeed Rather Hurtful

One way to describe Wounds is that the experience of watching it doesn’t feel like self-inflicted pain. However, it does feel like a slight bruising in the end because it’s such a mindbender and it becomes hard to decipher how you feel about the film in general. The first half offers strong promise but things go off the rails as the film progresses to the point where you can’t comprehend what you just saw.

Buy director Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow

The basic premise is as follows. Will (Armie Hammer), a bartender from New Orleans, is working a shift one night. But when a customer accidentally forgets her phone, he takes it back to his house when he leaves. Once he unlocks the customer’s phone, he and his girlfriend Carrie (Dakota Johnson) end up delving into a sinister plot. Not much more to add after that. One reason is to avoid potential spoilers and another is because there really isn’t anything to add.

On one hand, it’s beneficial to have some mystery so that our main protagonist can dig deeper into who the culprits are. On the other hand, the film becomes hindered by having too much mystery. After Will looks into the customer’s phone and finds out that something’s up, any sort of storyline nearly drops from there up until the film’s rather ridiculous cop-out ending. It becomes clear that something supernatural is potentially up and there’s even a bit of research into what Will is potentially dealing with. Yet, that’s all we get. That and stuff involving cockroaches.

That being said, there are some positives to be found. Particularly, Armie Hammer as the main lead. Hammer carries the film with ease, peeling back layers of his character’s arrogance and temperament. Also, Dakota Johnson does exemplary work as Carrie even though she has very little to do. Same with Zazie Beetz as Alicia, a bar patron Will tries having an affair with. Beetz does a solid job but like Johnson, she’s still rather wasted.

Truthfully, that’s really all that can be said about Wounds. It starts off having an intriguing premise but it ends up crumbling because there’s a little too much intrigue. It does feature a very committed performance from Armie Hammer yet the script still gives him only a handful of dramatic notes to play with. Maybe it’s one of those movies where you have to go back and see if there’s something you’ve missed the first time around. But the initial verdict is that it’s not eerie and packs little thrills.

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Matthew St.Clair

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