Adam MacDonald (director)
23 April 2018 (released)
21 April 2018
Having had a well-received screening at Frighfest Glasgow this year, Pyewacket now arrives on VOD and DVD where it will hopefully get a wide audience. And having been fortunate enough to see it on a cinema screen if that opportunity arises then this writer urges you to see it. It is beautifully filmed, with a terrific sound design and unsettling soundtrack by Lee Malia.
And unsettling Pyewacket is. There’s very superficial winks to The Witch, with its forest setting and its palpable menace, even before Leah’s (Nicole Muñoz) caprice to get at her mother (Laurie Holden), who has moved them to a log cabin in the wilderness, after the death of her father.
Never a close relationship it splinters further as Leah resents being separated from her friends – though she still sees them at school – and generally being told what to do. An interest in the occult and possessing the tools of the trade leads Leah to summon Pyewacket, after a particularly nasty confrontation.
Loud bumps in the night and a terrified friend demanding to be taken home during a stay-over in the cabin, and Leah is pretty soon regretting the summoning. Completely out of her depth she seeks advice from occult specialist Rowan Dove (James McGowan). She can reverse it but the instructions are specific and must be followed to the letter.
While not quite a two-hander director and writer Adam MacDonald’s film in the main revolves around Leah and her mother, with the much of the first part of the film concentrating on their relationship. This section is effectively disquieting with Muñoz and Holden sparring, neither even close understanding the pressures of the other, and layering on their angst.
With Pyewacket’s presence established the film subtly shifts up the gears with the noises, shadows and barely discernible figures coming to the fore. But it’s never overplayed with MacDonald more interested in realising a pervasive, morbid dread, and a wrenching denouement.
Granted it is a sophisticated take on the old ‘be careful what you wish for’ adage but it is undeniably very well done, and more to the point, effective. it’s a genuinely troubling experience that lingers in the mind for a good while after watching.