A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wildling is a horror-drama movie about a young woman (Bel Powley) who grew up imprisoned and is finally released; she tries to fit in, but she's a little ... different. Expect plenty of blood, gore, and monster images, plus guns and shooting, blood spatters, deaths, a teen girl given injections, and bullying. Teens kiss and have implied sex (nothing graphic is shown), a teen girl's nipples are visible through wet clothing, and she sees a teen boy in the shower. The movie also addresses puberty. Teens briefly smoke pot in an alley and drink at a house party. Language includes multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. The movie may not appeal to the usual horror hounds, but it's smart and unusual enough that it deserves to find an audience.
What's the story?
In WILDLING, a man known as Daddy (Brad Dourif) cares for a young girl called Anna, who appears to be a prisoner in a locked room. She's told that her circumstances are intended to protect her from the "Wildling." As Anna grows into a young woman (Bel Powley), Daddy finds it more difficult to keep secrets from her, and he attempts to commit suicide. The gunshot brings Sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler), who decides to bring Anna to her home rather than allow her to be locked up in a facility. Anna, who doesn't understand much about the outside world, starts acting strangely, doing things like devouring mostly meat at mealtime. She befriends Ellen's younger brother, Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), and they go to a party together. When bullies pick on Ray, something awakens in Anna, and the secret of her existence comes to the fore.
Is it any good?
Based on the primal, male-held view of changes in a woman's body being monstrous, this clever, sympathetic horror-drama offers a fresh, bracing twist on that myth. As Anna experiences her first menstrual cycle, "Daddy" tells her she's "sick," and from there, Wildling follows her as she deals with all of her new feelings and impulses; perhaps they're evil, but they feel good. It helps that Powley, with her wide, expressive eyes, is in the role. She went through similar changes and impulses (albeit in a less supernatural setting) in The Diary of a Teenage Girl.
Wildling is the feature directorial debut of German-born Fritz Bohm, and it's a good first film, finding a smart balance between sympathetic characters who are willing to understand Anna and ugly ones who are quick to judge her. It's also notable that the good characters are brother and sister, with no parents in sight; it's an interesting dynamic. Wildling is a movie whose meanings can be pleasurably picked apart, although it succeeds more fully as a thoughtful movie than as a scary one. (Dourif, known for his work as "Chucky," was doubtless cast for his horror movie clout, but Bohm doesn't seem interested in superficial scares.) And, of course, the movie's theme isn't exactly original (see Carrie, Ginger Snaps, Teeth, It Follows, Raw, etc.), but at least Bohm tackles it with renewed energy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Wildling's violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? Does the movie seem intended to shock? Or does it have something else in mind? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How does the movie treat bullies? What are other ways to handle them?
How is teen sex depicted? Is it romanticized, or does it have another purpose? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
- In theaters: April 13, 2018
- Cast: Brad Dourif, Liv Tyler, Bel Powley
- Director: Fritz Bohm
- Studio: IFC Midnight
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence including bloody images, language, some sexual content and teen drinking
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