A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wounds is a 2019 horror movie in which a charming but world-weary bartender enters a world of evil through a smartphone left at the bar. Since it's a movie primarily set in a bar, characters are frequently drunk, resulting in drunk driving, belligerent behavior, and a fight between two patrons in which one of the characters uses a broken bottle to scratch the face of the man he's fighting. Cocaine use is shown in the bar bathroom between the main character and his friend/love interest. Basically, every profane term in the dictionary is used at some point, including "f--k" (frequently) as well as "motherf---r" and "c--t." There are images of decapitated heads in pools of blood and thousands of cockroaches. A topless woman plays pool in a bar.
What's the story?
In WOUNDS, Will (Armie Hammer) is a charming if world-weary bartender in a New Orleans dive bar. After a bloody fight breaks out between two of the older regulars, a group of millennials flee the scene, and one of them leaves a smartphone behind. Will takes it back to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, Carrie (Dakota Johnson). When Will opens the phone to track down the owner, he encounters a series of texts from someone begging to be rescued from impending death. Will then sees, among other gruesome imagery, a decapitated head in a pool of blood. The texts now inform Will that he has opened up a portal linked to the occult and human sacrifice, and that he is next. All of this causes added friction to Will and Carrie's already troubled relationship, and Will goes on a hedonistic bender to drown out the sense of impending doom. As Will continues to dissipate, the void in his inner life emerges as something just as frightening as the death cult unleashed by the smartphone.
Is it any good?
This movie is a noble effort that doesn't quite mesh or satisfy. The acting is very good across the board, and it's clear that the writer-director Babak Anvari is trying to use the horror genre to comment on how dissipation from within and the failed relationships that stem from that can be just as horrifying and deadly as any supernatural apparition, but the result feels like a trick on the audience, an endless prank as the film toys with any and all standard conventions of horror movies. It's an ambitious attempt, but it doesn't quite succeed.
Indeed, the ultimate takeaway, after getting past the initial reactions to the head-scratching ending of the film, is that the ambition in expressing the deeper meanings to Wounds gets in the way, rather than amplifying the movie. Besides comments on dissipation, the movie also explores toxic male entitlement, the malaise and uncertainty so many post-college adults feel about their future and present, and the life-sucking qualities of too much time on the internet. It's all interesting and worthy of exploration, but so much of it competes and gets lost in the homages to, say, William S. Burroughs and David Cronnenberg. Furthermore, even with these influences, it starts to become obvious that David Lynch, years ago, used Twin Peaks to explore the central themes of Wounds, and engaged in similar genre-bending mischief.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about horror movies. How does this compare to other horror movies, and how does Wounds play with the forms and conventions of the horror genre?
Does the movie glamorize drug and alcohol use, or does it show consequences for the characters who engage in this behavior?
What are your thoughts on the ending of the movie? Should endings offer clear-cut resolutions, or do unclear endings offer more for the audience to think about?
- In theaters: January 26, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: December 26, 2019
- Cast: Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz, Karl Glusman
- Director: Babak Anvari
- Studio: Annapurna Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Disturbing violent content, language throughout, drug/alcohol use, and brief nudity.
- Last updated: May 21, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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