If you come to Pyewacket expecting full-on terror and jump-scares from the start then you will be disappointed, however if you like movies that build slowly and steadily, with clear (if you look for them) signposts as to where you are heading, then you will enjoy this film a lot more. A few reviewers seem to have taken against this Adam MacDonald movie because it isn’t the former, which seems daft – it’s like saying you don’t like waffles because they’re not pancakes!
The story is centred around teenager Leah Reyes, played brilliantly by Nicole Muñoz and her relationship with her mother who is only ever known as ‘Mrs Reyes’. Laurie Holden turns in a masterful performance as the mother, who obviously doesn’t warrant a first-name in the self-centred world of the teenager. There is a small but important supporting cast of teenagers that play a central role in the decisions that Leah ultimately makes, but really this film could have been done as a two-hander and still have been as effective.
We learn early on that the Reyes family have suffered a major loss, leaving Mrs Reyes as a single mother, and there are some scenes that show us that neither of our main characters appear to be dealing well with this bereavement. This fraught parent-teenager relationship is stretched to breaking point when Mrs Reyes decides to uproot the family and move to a secluded house in a forest, some 60 minute drive away from their current abode. This leads to a decision by Leah, who is obsessed with the occult, which she quickly starts to regret.
At this point in the movie we start to feel a growing sense of foreboding, and there are things suggested at and glimpsed in the shadows that make us start to wonder what is real. I think this is where people could take against this film, as nothing is clear-cut, and if you want quick edits and multiple scares then that’s not going to happen. You will however, be taken through to a conclusion that I found both shocking and satisfying.
I found this an intriguing and engaging study of loss and regret, and if it was just played as a drama and not a horror I think I would have enjoyed it almost as much. This low-budget creeper warrants a Skelpometer score of 8 out of 10.