No matter the film festival, there are always going to be films that surprise audiences. Sometimes those surprises are quite pleasant and quickly become the talk of the festival, and other times they are so terrible that you are left wondering, “What the hell happened?” Wounds, directed and written by Babak Anvari, who is best known for his directorial debut of 2016 horror hit Under the Shadow, already set the bar high for his sophomore film, especially considering that Under the Shadow became the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 89th Academy Awards.
The bar was raised even higher after the cast reveals, featuring Armie Hammer hot off of his beloved role in Call Me by Your Name, co-star Dakota Johnson who starred in the recent remake of horror classic Suspiria and the Fifty Shades trilogy, and Atlanta star Zazie Beetz. What you are undoubtedly thinking is that a film with a cast and director of such pedigree can’t be all that bad, but, yes, Wounds is that bad.
Wounds begins with an oddly placed quote from the novella Heart of Darkness, keyword “odd” because as the film progresses you realize one of the best parts of the film is that the quote doesn’t prepare audiences for the pure stupidity that oozes from Wounds. The story revolves around a charismatic but lazy New Orleans bartender named Will who stumbles upon a lost phone in his bar left by a group of underage teenagers from the night before. Rather than leaving the phone at his bar, he decides to take it home. As curiosity gets the better of him, he decides to go through it with his girlfriend, Carrie. What they discover sets them down a path unexplainable horrors and bizarre people.
The biggest complaint about Wounds besides the utterly wasted cast is the nasty tonal change throughout the film. Audiences will be left guessing on the intent behind each scene as they hesitate on whether to laugh at the pure absurdity on the screen or walk out of the theater. The dialog and cheap effects only harm any of the gripping psychological horror aspects as they make audiences realize just how silly the plot of Wounds is. After all, this is a film that can mainly be summed up as “Evil Cellphone: The Movie.” Another way to describe Wounds is to tell someone to imagine if Tommy Wiseau directed a horror movie instead of cult classic The Room, except Wounds lacks the charm and iconic lines that we associate with The Room.
For the people who decided not to walk out of the theater, Wounds rewarded its audience with by far the worst ending of any 2019 Sundance film that left numerous critics and press abruptly yelling, “What the fuck.” Wounds was scheduled for a March 29th release on Netflix, but quietly pulled from the schedule which only makes you question: How bad could it be if even Netflix wanted no part of it?