Main cast: Armie Hammer (Will), Dakota Johnson (Carrie), Zazie Beetz (Alicia), Karl Glusman (Jeffrey), Brad William Henke (Eric), and Kerry Cahill (Rosie)
Director: Babak Anvari
There’s actually a pretty good Lovecraftian plot in Wounds: the manifestation of a malevolent entity that emerges through a wound on one’s body once it has been summoned into this world through a ritual as described in the book The Translation of Wounds. Needless to say, people shouldn’t be reading that thing unless they want to do really, really bad things.
Will, a bartender in a rundown bar called Rosie’s, is drawn into the whole mess when a regular, Eric, gets involved in a drunken brawl and sustained a pretty bad injury on the right side of his face. Meanwhile, Will picks up a phone left by the college students whom Eric was tussling with. Later that evening, he manages to crack into the phone and witnesses a terrified chat from one “Garrett” to the phone owner, with that guy claiming that he is being stalked by something they have apparently released from a tunnel.
It gets worse from that point, as after Will points out that he has picked up the phone and he is a bartender at Rosie’s, Garrett begins addressing him directly. Will gets pictures of piles of bloody teeth, and then there are some gruesome videos featuring body horror stuff that will thrill fans of this kind of thing. Our protagonist also begins showing some behavioral changes – he becomes more aggressive, more prone of temper tantrum. He also has problems controlling his infatuation with a regular, Alicia, and his jealousy of her boyfriend, Jeffrey – which of course puts a huge strain on his own relationship with his girlfriend Carrie. Meanwhile Eric’s wound begins to show signs of infection and… unusual traits.
This one is quite a slow burn at first, but the movie will get more and more disturbing, culminating in a scene that is straight out of the Azathoth Fan Club handbook. People who have a fear of cockroaches better be careful while watching this one – there are many of them scurrying around, and yes, their constant presence is meant to be disturbing.
Unfortunately, while Wounds has all the makings of a cult film, it makes one fatal mistake: Will.
Now, Armie Hammer is a good looking guy. He broods very well, and he looks fine without his shirt. In other words, he is horribly miscast here. Will is written to be an aimless loser who has little ambition or direction in life. Now, have a good-looking guy play him, give this character a smoking hot girlfriend, have them live in a nice house, and Will comes off as a petulant, entitled whiner who pitches a fit because he can’t get into the pants of another woman, even when both of them are already in relationships with other people. The fact that a hot guy with great physique is content to be a bartender in a Z-tier bar makes him come off even more as some man-child who needs to be smacked with some grow the hell up trowel.
At the penultimate moment, when Will declares that he is “empty inside” and needs Roach-thulhu to make him whole, I can only snort and say, “Bitch, go work at McDonald’s.” All his mishaps up to that fact are self-inflicted with a push from Roach-thulhu, so it’s like watching a pampered, spoiled brat whine that he is oppressed because life doesn’t play his way.
For this movie to work, it needs a genuinely wounded or mentally unhinged protagonist – think Arthur from Joker – and this fellow needs to pushed to extremes in order to get him to embrace the unthinkable. Here, Will is mad because he can’t get the honey he wants, he ruins his love life because he is an ass, and he can’t stay employed in a minimum wage job because he is a douchebag. Now he wants to accept a great evil into his life? Bitch, grow up already!