The horror genre is a diverse and strange world that continually evolves as every generation seems to step up to the plate. The seventies and eighties are certainly the last key moments within the evolution of the genre. While there are certainly arguments for numerous films that have been made throughout the nineties and the past decade, it’s hard to realistically argue with the success rate of the genre during the previously mentioned decades. The ideas seemed more original and there was a dedication to being genuinely eerie during this period. Even in the earliest slasher films, there was an emphasis on genuinely scaring the audience. Jason Voorhees may have killed just as many people during the early Friday films and the gore may have been just as chunky, but there was still a sense of mystery and creepiness coming through in those original films. Somewhere along the way, perhaps with the self-aware titles that were influenced by Scream, the horror genre became slightly clumsy. The morbid content and subtle paces were replaced with MTV-style editing and gore for the simple sake of shocking the audience. No longer were filmmakers producing content with the intentions of being "scary," that has become too passé for our self-aware society. Well, thankfully there has been a resurgent interest in the horror genre returning to these roots. While Hollywood has essentially bucked the trend (with only Paranormal Activity seeming to be an attempt at being scary), there have been several independent films that have tried to spook their audience. The Wanted is a bit of a hybrid in regards to the previously mentioned styles, but for the most part it is a legitimately atmospheric attempt at the slasher genre. Despite its lack of budget, it manages to be both slick and legitimately creepy. While not a perfect film, it is certainly an interesting one.
The general story behind The Wanted is very familiar for what it is. We follow a young teenage girl who is approached by a very outgoing couple who want to have a night out on the town. They leave this young girl to watch after their very quiet child, but as soon as they are out the door: something doesn’t seem to be quite right. It seems as if a stranger is keeping eyes on this young woman. Will she manage to escape the night of terror that awaits her?
From the VHS-esque design used in the promotion of the film, as well as all other titles found under the umbrella of RHR Home Video, there’s definitely a feeling of nostalgia accompanying this title. The Wanted packs an experience that starts before the feature film, and it encompasses more than just the basic plot. From the previously mentioned VHS-style design of the DVD case to the trailer reel which plays before the movie, The Wanted certainly wants to take its audience back to a simpler time. The trailer reel is certainly reminiscent of the VHS days where audiences had to sit through a series of trailers before their main feature (I feel stupid having to explain that, but if you think about it, the average 12-year-old has no knowledge of the VHS world). Amongst the trailers on display are the independent features Silly Scaries 2 and Slumber Party Slasherthon, but also among the trailers are some legitimate exploitation titles like Devil Times Five and All the Kind Strangers. Aside from these promotional items, The Wanted also features a very nostalgic feel within the movie itself, and this is primarily its best feature. Thankfully these filmmakers refused to simply add faux-scratches to their video or try to somehow digitally "downgrade" their video, but instead they focus on pacing and generally spooky moments in order to sell their movie as a throwback title.
If you’re a horror movie fan, after hearing all of my praise for this film and its atmospheric pacing, then you have probably already made a very apt comparison within your mind. Although this comparison will be a popular one while discussing the film, The Wanted will indeed remind audiences a bit of Ti West’s House of the Devil. This is not a knock mind you, as the films are ultimately very far apart in their presentation, but both movies do manage to strike that oldschool-horror-movie itch that so many of us seem desperate to scratch. The comparisons can also be seen as slightly more general, other than in tone and atmosphere. Featuring a story about a babysitter who is stuck guarding a house that seems to be targeted by evil forces, the two movies do indeed share this common feature. Although one film takes upon the world of supernatural horror, The Wanted looks to bring that same refreshing style to the slasher genre. Indeed, The Wanted has the feel of a classic horror story. It isn’t afraid to feature long shots that are meant to draw out tension, and the film itself shows no fear in revisiting some genre cliches in order to do them in a slightly more unnerving way. The movie does indeed delve a bit more into the world of genre-film cliches when our stalker is revealed to be a masked killer, but the film makes up for it in the level of tension and atmosphere that is delivered throughout the majority of the film. The masked killer certainly does look quite cool for this sort of feature. Wearing a chrome mask that slightly resembles the one in Laid to Rest, the movie mixes the oldschool aesthetics in with some newschool values – and what is left is a surprisingly strong independent horror feature.
The Wanted isn’t a classic piece of horror, but it certainly shows a lot of promise. Many of the performances are actually quite great, with only a few stiff performers in the cast. The movie looks really good as well. The filters that are used give the movie a very polished look, but this is still a very obvious independent feature. Still, with a little more time I would be curious to see what these filmmakers manage to develop. Certainly give it a look if you run into it! If you’d like to know more about this project or RHR Home Video, make sure to check out the official webpage: http://rhrhomevideo.com