Way of the Wicked has been somewhat unfairly drubbed in critical circles. It’s a straight horror movie intended for the direct-to-video market, using a small part by Christian Slater as its marketing hook in a crowded field of like-minded movies. The supernatural thriller avoids a lot of the empty FX that are so popular these days, instead taking a meat-and-potatoes approach to the diabolical teen action and drama. Way of the Wicked mixes elements from Carrie and a million other satanic thrillers, using solid performances by Vinnie Jones and its alluring female lead, Emily Tennant. No one will confuse this with brilliant storytelling but horror fans should find it solid entertainment as a rental.
Way of the Wicked might be the first movie where an obnoxious haircut threatens to ruin one’s enjoyment. The intense teen that mysteriously comes back to school after a five-year absence, Robbie Mueller (Jake Croker), has one of the most ridiculous haircuts ever worn by a lead actor. Considering the number of close-ups in Way of the Wicked, expect to repeatedly deal with one of the ugliest hairstyles seen from a primary character since The Fifth Element. It might be a deal-breaker for some but I guess the filmmakers wanted us to know he’s true evil. Only a child of Satan would attempt it.
Robbie disappeared after a kid died around him at the age of twelve. He reappears five years later in high school, sporting said sinister haircut and a comically evil stare. His former friend from childhood is Heather (Emily Tennant), who just happens to have turned into the high school’s most beautiful girl with a flock of popular friends around her. Robbie has had it rough since he left but never forgot Heather, the girl of his dreams. Robbie is immediately detected as an outcast by the cool kids, despite his attempts to get closer to Heather.
Heather’s overprotective father happens to be a police detective, John Elliott (Vinnie Jones). Vinnie Jones is the other big name in this cast, they do have to explain in the film why his character has a native British accent. For an actor typecast in a lot of action roles, he handles this different style with ease.
Christian Slater plays Father Henry, a kooky priest that has been following Robbie around and believes the youth is part of some coming demonic force. This is the part of the story that feels the most ham-handed and tacked-on, Slater’s role amounts to little more than a few minutes of screen-time. Most disappointingly, his character adds little necessary texture to Robbie’s true nature. The script skips over that in a transparent fashion, using a couple of throwaway lines about a medieval manuscript. It would not surprise me to find out they added the demonic angle to this movie late in the creative process.
Inevitably, the detective grows wary of Robbie when the menacing teen starts hanging out with his precious daughter, Heather. Heather is out with another male friend when the boy is killed by a broken tractor that moves on its own. Robbie is in the bushes when this happens, indicating his possible telekinetic powers. Police get involved in the murder investigation and both teens become murder suspects.
Despite Robbie’s obnoxious haircut and an embarrassing cameo role by Christian Slater, Way of the Wicked manages to become a decent horror thriller with its cohesive story and well-drawn characters. Think along the lines of Carrie (the classic original, not the terrible remake) but with a male protagonist. If one is not into this type of horror film, you should probably look elsewhere.
Image Entertainment gives us a spectacular-looking Blu-ray for Way of the Wicked. Filmed in Canada using RED digital cameras, the 1.78:1 widescreen image has nothing short of stellar picture quality. The 92-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. The video is so pristine that the merely adequate compression flawlessly handles the 1080p resolution. One could look for days and not find a defect, a type of crystal-clarity that can only be found in the latest digital features.
Everything is extremely detailed and razor-sharp, from tighter shots to longer distances. What you get on this BD is a flawless replication of the movie’s Digital Intermediate likely finished at 2K, reproducing strong contrast and perfect black levels. There is a slight video sheen to the picture quality, and exteriors tend to have overly bright white levels. A little warmth to the color palette might have helped the slightly washed-out flesh-tones, but it is of minor concern.
This is demo quality video material that will easily hold up on the biggest displays, showing unfiltered detail with excellent depth and immaculate shadow delineation. You would never know this is an independent production judged by its outstanding video.
A 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack provides a suitable surround experience in decent sonic quality. The score by Christopher Nickel becomes nicely spread-out over the soundfield in fine fidelity. Intelligible dialogue in a well-balanced mix combines with a number of panning effects and discrete sound cues. It is a fair effort for a direct-to-video movie. Don’t expect a tidal wave of overpowering sound – this was a low-budget affair that avoids expensive FX.
The sole subtitle option is English SDH, rendered in a white font.
Image provides nothing but a bunch of skippable trailers that precede the main menu. This set of movies at least belong to the same general genre as the main feature.
Odd Thomas Trailer (02:29 in HD)
The Colony Trailer (02:18 in HD)
Stranded (01:31 in HD)
Evidence (02:24 in HD)
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.