Directed by: David Blyth | 77 minutes | fantasy, horror | Actors: Kate O’Rourke, Te Kaea Beri, Campbell Cooley, Sandy Lowe, Brendan Gregory, Ian Mune, Maggie Tarver, Chrystal Ash, Matt Easterbrook, Omar Al-Sobky, Andy Sophocleous, Christina Cortesi, Heath Mortlock, Richard S.J. Scholes
Which a lot of controversy can’t do. New Zealand Moral Knights wanted to ban “Wound” roads “too violent and controversial.” Subsequently, the film was labeled “shocking” and “extreme” on numerous websites. What made the film even more interesting was the fact that opinions are very divided. Or you don’t like it at all or walk away with this art house horror. There does not seem to be a middle ground. Regardless, director David Blyth laughs in his sleeve, because “Wound” garnered a lot of publicity. And publicity generates curiosity. Curiosity creates an audience and the audience is money. Cash desk!
David Blyth is no stranger to the horror genre. In 1984, he shot the obscure “Death Warmed Up”, New Zealand’s first splatter horror film. It was not until three years later that Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” appeared, which did gain (international) fame. While his compatriot’s fame continued to grow, Blyth continued to work on the fringes. His resume includes a few episodes of “The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers”. A director has to eat too, right? Now Blyth is back with a movie of her own. Correction: a controversial film of its own. And that is “Wound”.
“Wound” is about Susan (Kate O’Rourke), a fragile woman with a dark past. Her father sexually abused her and since then she lives or survives on medicines. Suddenly, when Tanya (Te Kaea Beri) arrives on the doorstep, Susan’s life changes instantly. The girl claims to be her daughter. But hadn’t Susan left her daughter for dead? Is Tanya real and how do you tell a child that her father is also her grandfather? Susan’s world is collapsing.
It is clear from the first scene that Blyth did not want to make a “normal” horror film. There is no real plot in “Wound”. It seems like the director is letting his cast improvise as much as possible. Visually, “Wound” also follows unconventional paths.
Blyth uses security cameras, which creates a surreal, documentary-like atmosphere. Scenes also follow each other in a fragmentary way. Information is released little by little, so you always have to pay close attention. The characters are not presented neatly and what their function is in the story is never immediately clear. This alienating narrative structure is very similar to the work of David Lynch.
Lynch’s later work has been dismissed by some critics as “artyfarty”. Act weird to act weird. Blyth’s latest contribution certainly falls under that category. The strange atmosphere is uncomfortable, but in the long run the confused narrative structure and the artificial camera angles are against you. “Wound” is therefore boring. And that’s a shame, because if even O’Rourke’s phenomenal acting can no longer keep you on your toes, it’s all wrong. The actress goes very deep for her role and she knows how to portray a broken woman without many words. Her game keeps “Wound” up somewhat. Kaea Beri isn’t bad, but she doesn’t get much to do. This is O’Rourke’s film and hopefully she will be offered more (and better) films as a result of this great acting performance.
Well, then the controversy. There are a few brutal scenes of violence in this movie (at the beginning and towards the end), but diehard gorehounds are used to worse. “Wound” is raw and harsh, but on a scant budget, resulting in incredible scenes. Okay, fans of glossy Hollywood horror will be shocked by a brutal fragment in which a (clearly) rubber penis is cut off and a passage in which a painful delivery can be seen, but for seasoned genre fans it will mainly appear fake. The controversy is a bit of an exaggeration as there are worse movies on the market.
Blyth’s attempt at art house horror is brave, but unfortunately unconvincing. With a more generous budget and with more control, this could have become a genre classic. Now it has turned into an interesting failure.