Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Travis Stevens.
Starring Sarah Lind, Josh Ruben, Malin Barr, Katie Kuang.
Horror, US, 91 minutes.

Reviewed as part of Arrow FrightFest ‘22

Streaming on Shudder from 1st December


In a year that has seen more than its fair share of original horror from across the globe, Travis Stevens’ third directorial feature still manages to stand out from the pack. It could be argued that A WOUNDED FAWN has a bare bones premise, a serial killer playing with a potential female victim in the woods, but it takes all manner of wild turns, both narratively and stylistically, that it easily stands out as one of the most original films in quite some time. As a progression in Stevens already impressive career it marks out a bold new direction whilst also proving that risks that can still be taken with the horror genre that pay off in several puzzling yet satisfying ways.


At the centre of events here is Josh Ruben’s Bruce, a serial killer who preys on women masquerading as an art dealer. Using a clawed implement straight out of a vintage giallo that would have De Palma nodding approvingly, Bruce chooses his victims from the art scene, seemingly at the behest of an otherworldly figure who drives him to his crimes. His visions and compulsions have led Bruce to travel away for the weekend with Sarah Lind’s unsuspecting Meredith to a remote house in the woods. So far so good, we have all seen this story before you may be thinking. Well, you would be quiet, quite wrong. Bruce’s visions/visitations increase and then take a turn as more otherworldly figures appear, which are either the Furies of Greek myth or a product of his own cracked mind's eye inspired by his own fascination with the art world in which he conducts his hunt now turning in on himself. Or both.


Along with co-writer Nathan Faudree, Stevens has no interest in giving the audience a clear-cut answer. He just dives straight in, delivering a full-on surreal descent into the downfall of a predator. Thematically it fits in with Steven’s previous films that looked into the victimisation of female victims who then turn the tables on their aggressors. Stylistically however it looks and feels completely different from anything he has been involved with before. Filmed on 16mm it feels of a part with the low budget indie horror cinema of the 70’s and 80’s while most effects are achieved practically with some of them presented in such a matter-of-fact style that it leads into the viewer into guessing how much of this is taking place in Bruce’s own fractured mind or that all of this madness is actually happening. It may sound like an exercise in post-modernism but there is a sense of awareness that stops it from becoming po-faced. For all its dark aspects there is a sense of playfulness here, resulting in the single most satisfying and grimly humorous closing shot in years.


Film reviewers tend to rely on the cliché of describing a film as hallucinatory when what it really means is lots of colourful lighting crossed with strobes and a cranked-up soundtrack. A WOUNDED FAWN is one of those rare films that merits the description. In what has been a banner year for Shudder this could be the best film to be found on there this year and should convince you to get a subscription if you have not already. As examinations of artistically driven homicidal madness played against the concept of unbridled female driven primal vengeance go it is probably the best and most original example in years. Where Stevens goes from here is anyone’s guess, but it is bound to be exciting if this is anything to go by.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans