First time feature director Fritz Böhm delivers a very good fantasy horror movie, with a toothy storyline, which abandons the hokey full moon and silver bullets, puts a spin on the Teen Wolf story with a coming of age tale in a John Hughes vein. Bohm also pens this story along with first time screenwriter Florian Eder, who weaved heavily layered characters, hiding secrets in the shadows, until the right time to unleash them on the viewers.

The story focuses on a young girl (pre-teen), Anna, who since a little child, was kept in a rural home, educated by her “Daddy”, however barred from venturing outside because the wildlings. Her Daddy is portrayed by the incredibly and very talented Brad Dourif (Child’s Play), who becomes immersed in the plot by a carefully layered manner thanks to the writers’ masterful plan. Bel Powley wonderfully portrays Anna, capturing her curiosity about the outside world, her own transformations and teachings by her “Daddy”. First note, there’s no sexual abuse, definitely not that type of story, rather Dourif’s character deathly afraid and concerned about her nearing age of puberty some forces this loving individual to make serious life altering decisions. Now pardon this jump, as I don’t want to give away anything from this great story. Entering the story is local sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler who also starred in The Strangers (2008)) and her brother, Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), attempt to give Anna the chance to live a normal life, all against the concerns of doctors. Elle’s character doesn’t seem to understand the social dynamics absent from her life, unsure exactly if its intentional from a writing standpoint. A series of interesting changes begin to happen to Anna leading to a wickedly nature versus humankind. She displays natural instincts from eating beef and awkwardness in social settings, as well as a ramping up of heated sexuality. Elle does try to have Anna look, dress, and act as a girl, even giving certain products, all of it foreign to this curious girl, none of it leading to a deeper development of thoughts from Elle. Her brother Ray, his character has a far deeper understanding of her, perhaps showing a story more intended for the teen market than adults did. Whichever the case, the final act of the film swirls quickly, with terror and horror pieces coming into place, and further uncovering of both “Daddy” and Anna understanding her true natural self.

Powley earns and deserves much of the credit for how she handles her character’s secretive existence, many times not with words rather actions, looks, allowing the fantasy around her to breathe more into the plot devices. She conveys anger, tension, and terror easily, charming the audience with an emotional range that lures us into the shadows where the real story exists. A short production window occurred for this movie, approximately 23 days as they needed to hurry with limited time allowed for working with child actors, key animals, and Dourif’s schedule. The movie does rely on make many visual effects however; they all blend nicely, to create good set designs and some terrorizing shots. Principal photography comprised only 23 days with generally no overtime. Böhm made sure to avoid the mistake many first-time filmmakers, he used the locations granted to him, namely the forest and with experienced cinematographer Toby Oliver (Get Out, Happy Death Day). Nevertheless, some moments near the end of the movie tend to feel rushed, the pacing becomes too quick, but the composition from Paul Haslinger (Fear the Walking Dead) assists in created scary gripping moments.

The story for many horror fans might elude them, as its not graphic or even that violent, it relies more on a fantasy telling, for teens, and builds into their mind’s imagination creating a dark supernatural tale of woes and hinting the issues of adjusting to society’s acceptable norms. Although one needs to note that a there’s a scene which references the classic werewolf movie The Howling (1981).

This movie distributed by IFC Midnight.

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Baron’s Rating:  6/10