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Frightfest Glasgow: Pyewacket Review: Dir. Adam MacDonald (2018)


Pyewacket Review: A teenager makes a pact with a witch which puts her mother in danger in the delightfully dark teenage horror, Pyewacket.

Pyewacket review by Kat Hughes. 

Pyewacket Revie

Hollywood is currently going crazy for Lady Bird, a film all about a dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship. It seems like perfect timing then that Pyewacket, the horror equivalent, is now being released.

Teenager Leah (Nicole Muñoz) and her mother (Laurie Holden) are struggling both emotionally and financially after the death of Leah’s father. Haunted by memories at every turn, Leah’s mother makes the controversial decision to relocate to somewhere smaller and more isolated. The move means that Leah must leave behind her friendship group, something that makes her very angry. So angry in fact, that she storms off into the woods and summons supernatural entity, Pyewacket, and asks it to get rid of her mother. She soon starts to have second thoughts, but Pyewacket doesn’t do refunds. Leah then finds herself in a race against time to send Pyewacket back to whence it came before the task can be completed.

Pyewacket Review

Whilst on paper Pyewacket might sound like an Insidious style jump and screamathon. Much like Raw and The WitchPyewacket is very much a slow and steady burn that relies on cerebral engagement to get the full effect. Director Adam MacDonald drags out the tension until its epic climax; the tone is sinister and pitch black. It starts bleak and ends horrifically, and is like a sledgehammer to the emotions. The scare scenes are well played and unexpected. The score (from Bring me the Horizon’s Lee Malia) is foreboding and unnerving, making even those scenes free of frights, creepy and uncomfortable.

The dynamic between Laurie Holden and Nicole Muñoz is beautiful, and their acting is simply superb. Holden especially does a brilliant job as she has some very heavy emotional scenes as Leah’s mother. Her character’s reaction to some topics may make many feel uncomfortable as they don’t fit in with the typical portrayal of the mother figure. She’s a contradiction of emotions and actions, but one that is a more realistic reflection of the imperfections that motherhood can cause. Muñoz too, does a fantastic job of making Leah more than just a bratty and moody teen.

Pyewacket Review

Pyewacket encapsulates the teenage experience in a very real way and, despite the genre setting, offers a fairly honest portrayal of some mother-daughter dynamics. They can’t all be sunshine and light, and some viewers will find that this resonates with them more than the likes of Lady Bird.

A very cautionary tale on the old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’, Pyewacket chills you to the core. .

Pyewacket review by Kat Hughes, March 2018.

Pyewacket was reviewed at the 2018 Horror Channel Frightfest event which formed part of the 2018 Glasgow Film Festival.

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