Earlier in 2019, Wounds debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and now turns up as Hulu’s horror movie of the week. Stars Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson give the movie a modicum of credibility as it seeks to find a place among recent auteur-horror features (let’s quote Hearts of Darkness!) and mainstream scarefests (where are all these bugs coming from?).
WOUNDS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Will (Hammer) tends bar in a New Orleans dive. He stomps on a roach and trades shots with one of his regulars, Alicia (Zazie Beetz), and her boyfriend, Jeffrey (Karl Glusman). He snickers at the fake IDs of a few teenagers and serves them anyway, because he’s “cool.” Another regular, Eric (Brad William Henke) is a burly drunkard who lives upstairs in an apartment where his Confederate flag nicely complements the vomit all over the floor. Eric spars with another ruffian, and gets a faceful of busted bottle, then heads up to bleed all over his pillow. Just another day at work for Will.
Cleaning up the mess, Will finds a smartphone left behind by one of the underagers. He pockets it and drunk-drives home to his girlfriend Carrie (Johnson). When she’s not game for some wakey-wakey nookie, he goes to the fridge for a couple more beers. He figures out how to unlock the phone, texts the owner, goes to sleep, wakes up, finds a reply: a disgusting photo of splattered blood and teeth. More come through — a couple of severed heads that look alarmingly realistic. So he calls the cops, turns over the phone and goes to work. The end!
No! Instead, Will farts around aimlessly, because that’s what he does. He eats a sandwich, plays some video games, maybe realizes that someone’s following him, goes back to the bar to hang out even though he’s not working, drives down the street, hallucinates that roaches are crawling all over him, jumps out of the truck, rolls around like a madman, loses the phone and THEN goes to the cops to tell them how he has no evidence supporting all the weird things happening to him. “I know it sounds crazy, but,” he says, and I’ll finish the sentence: “But I’m a moron who, when faced with two choices, makes the least logical one, resulting in the sudden downward trajectory of my personal relationships and the disintegration of my sanity. Now what should I do about these crazy flashes of severed heads I keep visualizing, and why is my girlfriend staring zombielike at a picture of a gray hole she found on the internet?”
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: How many horror movies out there feature characters who act contrary to common sense? Most all of them, you say? Well, Wounds is like those movies, with a light whiff of a really dumb haunted neo-tech movie such as Unfriended or One Missed Call.
Performance Worth Watching: There’s not a lot of there there in Hammer’s character, which may or may not be intentional (cue the Joseph Conrad quote about empty vessels that prefaced the film). But it fits the actor’s finely honed ability to spritz scenes with flippant quasi-charm laced with unearned overconfidence and smarmy condescension. That’s a long way of saying Hammer is very good at playing a total dick.
Memorable Dialogue: Carrie utters this analytical gem about the human condition: “People look so normal on the outside. But on the inside, it’s all just… worms.”
Sex and Skin: Has Dakota Johnson ever been in a movie where she doesn’t walk around in her underwear?
Our Take: Wounds features some solid character work by Hammer and Beetz, and director Babak Anvari conjures a bit of eerie New Orleans location voodoo. You’ll wish there was more to Johnson’s character, which seems to have been written on the back of a fortune-cookie fortune, squeezed under the lucky numbers.
The story essentially follows Will’s descent into madness, inspired by a grab-bag of gross visual cues: Bugs, an oozing wound in Will’s armpit, more bugs, phone calls from the torture annex in one of Dante’s rings of hell, even more bugs. There’s also something about a portal. Is it important? Friends, I can’t answer that. This isn’t a plot; it’s 99 red herrings and one tuna. Good luck with your casserole!
The movie tosses in some ancient lord-of-all-fevers-and-plagues stuff that doesn’t really explain anything — one of the text messages Will intercepts hilariously reads, “We shouldn’t have messed around with those books.” Not that these types of plots really need detailed explication to be narratively functional, mind you. But there’s a difference between tantalizing suggestiveness and frustrating sketchiness, and Wounds skews far too heavily towards the latter.
Our Call: SKIP IT. Wounds looks pretty good on the outside. But on the inside, it’s all just… worms.
The post Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Wounds’ on Hulu, in Which Armie Hammer Finds a Haunted Cell Phone and Loses His Mind appeared first on Decider.