Friday, September 30, 2022

Movie Review: 223 WICK (2022)


Religious horror films have been around since the very beginning of the genre, as the first horror film ever made was a short film from 1896 called Le Manoir du Diable (The House of the Devil) by George Méliès. Films like The Exorcist and The Omen were some of the earliest horror movies I’d ever seen, which helped to shape my view of the genre. Then more recently, with the likes of The Conjuring franchise, my love for them has grown. So, when I got the chance to check out 223 Wick, which was touted as a “religious thriller” and “inspired by the likes of Hitchcock and Kubrick”, I had to jump on it.

The official 223 Wick synopsis reads as follows: “Plagued by visions and nightmares, a catholic priest is ousted from his parish. With nowhere to turn, he follows the sinister visions calling him and discovers a deal he alone must stop.” It’s definitely an intriguing premise, one that could have been done extremely well. However, there were more than a few missteps throughout this film.

The film starts off by essentially spoiling the end, or at the very least, spoiling the fate of the main character, Father John, played by Alexi Stavrou. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but it just felt completely unnecessary. From there, it just got more and more confusing, as if there was more to the story that just didn’t make it to the screen. And with such a short runtime (74 minutes), a bit more backstory could have been useful.

It was written by two new screenwriters, Melanie Clarke-Penella and Jess Byard, and it’s possible that their lack of experience led to an unsatisfying story, but without seeing the script, I just can’t be sure. Perhaps, there was more detail in the script, and those scenes just got cut out by the director, Sergio Myers. Whatever the case may be, it was just lacking too much to be a cohesive story. And speaking of the director, there was a lot that felt off, from the blocking and placement of actors, to the overall personalities of several of the characters.

It was clear from the beginning that this was a very low-budget production, which became even more obvious any time a special effect was used. I also noticed a glaring issue with the sound editing, as the volume would fluctuate at random times, which became more noticeable when it occurred during dialogue. And then there was the score, which was very awkward at times, giving off more of a 90’s dance club vibe than an eerie horror film. It just didn’t work for me at all.

The last thing I’ll mention, as I feel like I’ve been very critical in this review, is the mostly subpar acting. I thought Alexi Stavrou did a fairly good job with what he had to work with, as did Jack Dimich, who played Father Murphy, although his accent felt confusing, as it sounded Irish at time, and Italian at others, but the rest of the performances just did not impress.

One thing I did find intriguing was the use of an Egyptian deity, as opposed to just going with the devil, like so many other films that have come before it. And while I’m not the biggest fan of making other religions seem evil like that, I was at least happy to see something different. They may not have hit the target, but at least they took the shot.

Overall, while this film does have an interesting premise and definitely gives off a creepy vibe at times, the confusing story and odd score prevent it from coming together in the end.


The Merc’s Score:  2/10

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