The Dark and the Wicked

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Dark and the Wicked Movie Poster Image
Blood and gore in scary, mature haunted house movie.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real messages here. The evil thing that comes for the family does so without any reason or explanation.

Positive Role Models

Characters return home to be with a dying family member, although this act is portrayed as rather basic, rather than admirable. And things fall apart so thoroughly that there's no real chance for anyone to exhibit any admirable tendencies. In fact, Michael runs away from the house at one point, abandoning his sister and heading home.


Strong blood and gore, blood spatters, pools of blood. Scary stuff, jump scares, creepy, lurking figures. Character chops fingers off. Character hanged by rope. Shotgun shown. Character seemingly slicing her own flesh. Character shoots self in head. Nightmares. Field full of dead, slaughtered goats; carnage. Character slicing own neck. Character stabs face and eyes with knitting needles. Character's head bashed against wall. Image of dead family, mother and two girls, killed with knife. Spider in mouth.


Naked elderly female ghost, partly obscured by shadow, breasts visible.


Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "goddamn," and "damn," plus exclamatory use of "Jesus Christ."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character smokes cigarettes. Characters drink bottles of beer with dinner and after dinner on the porch.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dark and the Wicked is a well-made, scary horror movie about adult siblings (Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr.) who return home to be with their dying father but find that some kind of evil force is taking over. It has lots of blood and gore, with deaths, blood sprays, pools of blood, characters taking their own lives, slicing, stabbing, and shooting, a field full of dead goats, fingers chopped off, and various additional nightmarish imagery. A naked elderly female ghost is seen, partly obscured by shadow, but with breasts visible. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," etc. A main character smokes cigarettes, and two characters drink beer with and after dinner.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byemonix05 December 16, 2020


Wow. This is a fantastic film! I screamed out loud during it. I love horror and have to say, this is one of my favourites. It is very gorey. Like, there is so m... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byHappyGamerhours August 23, 2021

It’s Ok

I almost gave this 2 stars, but hey, I’m in a generous mood.

The Dark and The Wicked tries to be poetic, or cryptic and abstract, but it really isn’t. It’s a b... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byThat70sshowgirl January 9, 2021

Sooo disturbing!!

I watched it with my mom and there was a lot of blood and I’m actually scarred for life by watching the movie. There’s only a little bit of nudity but nothing r... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE DARK AND THE WICKED, Louise (Marin Ireland) and her brother Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) return home to their Texas family ranch, where their father is dying. Their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) greets them coldly, saying, "You shouldn't have come." That night, she chops off her own fingers and hangs herself in the barn. Over the course of a week, more and more strange and terrifying things start to happen. Then a young girl appears at the door and asks Louise, "Do you smell him? He's getting close." Is there a malevolent force amassing, and if so, can it be stopped?

Is it any good?

Essentially a haunted house movie, this foreboding, scary flick relies on a few old horror tricks but somehow freshens them up with its strong, vivid characters and its dark sense of the unknown. Writer-director Bryan Bertino, who's best known for his gory, brutal home invasion movie The Strangers, takes a step back into something more classical with The Dark and the Wicked. With potent sound design and use of music, he makes an old farmhouse and its accompanying barn into places of terror. A homemade alarm system consisting of empty bottles and bits of metal dangling from strings becomes more of an attack than a warning.

Bertino uses many jump scares and artificial shocks, but within this atmosphere, they're genuinely chilling. Some scenes are laden with visual effects, but others, such as a simple phone call, can likewise make your skin crawl. Ireland and Abbott Jr. are very strong in their roles, arguing about what to do and wanting to get out of the house but unable to leave their dying father. (A nurse asserts that a person dying alone is the worst thing that can happen.) The siblings' dynamic, full of regret and weariness, feels authentic. But perhaps the best thing about The Dark and the Wicked is that it understands how the scariest stuff in the world is the unknown, and it uses that effectively, right up to the final moment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Dark and the Wicked's violence. How strong or shocking is it? How does the blood and gore contribute to the effect? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How scary is the movie? Why do people sometimes like to watch horror movies?

  • Do you agree that people dying alone is the worst thing that could happen? Why, or why not?

  • When the priest character talks about "your truth," what does he mean?

  • What do you think the evil force was, and why did it come for this family?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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Themes & Topics

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