Parents' Guide to

The Wasteland

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Suicide, disturbing images in supernatural horror movie.

Movie NR 2022 92 minutes
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At its best and most memorable, it's perhaps the eeriest and strangest coming-of-age movie ever made. The Wasteland works best when the story focuses on this aspect of a disturbing tale of a family of three hiding out in a bleak landscape in 19th century Spain as war and destruction rage and ravage their country. They have carved out a small safe haven, but it's immediately apparent that the isolation is starting to get to them. Against this desolate backdrop of grim survival, the father, Salvadór, is trying to force his son Diego to grow up faster than he's capable of doing at such a young age. Circumstances reveal that Diego has no choice as his father, in a questionable-at-best decision, leaves his wife and son, Diego's mother's sanity hangs by a thread, and a monster seems to be lurking outside of their house, moving ever closer.

On the whole, this works, but not entirely. The father's decision to leave, for instance, comes across as a little too convenient and out of character for how concerned he seemed to be for the safety of his family. Perhaps he just needed any excuse to get away from such drab surroundings, but it comes across more as a typical "bad and convenient horror movie decision." The pacing of the movie isn't great, and the moments that drag are heightened by the false expectations of horror movie jump music that ultimately seems superfluous, as the sounds, or lack thereof, of the house and the land (to say nothing of those rabbits) does more than enough to unsettle the viewer. The acting is strong, and there's a clear earnestness in making this film, but even at 92 minutes, it feels longer than that, and these attempts to create a style outweigh the substance.

Movie Details

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