A Surreal Bloody Nightmare
Wounded Fawn is a surreal, bloody nightmare serial killer story written and directed by Travis Stevens. This film is marked by solid performances, a twisty plot, and eye-catching 16mm photography. Throughout, Stevens and his collaborators – including co-screenwriter Nathan Faudree, cinematographer Ksusha Genenfeld and sound designer/composer Vaaal – take familiar ideas and images and give them a fresh pop.
Travis Stevens has directed other movies like Girl on the Third Floor and Jakob’s Wife with A Wounded Fawn being his third. The story primarily concerns Bruce (Josh Ruben), a seemingly nice guy driven by demonic impulses to destroy beautiful women.
When Bruce gets too close to a powerful and ancient Greek artifact, he encounters a divine judgment that could ruin his romantic getaway weekend with Meredith (Sarah Lind).
Meredith is a museum curator who has decided to take a step into a new relationship and then she meets Bruce who invites her on a weekend getaway to his secluded art-deco cabin.
Unbeknownst to her, this disarming man is a sinister and twisted individual who believes that a red owl is compelling him to kill beautiful women. But Bruce should have thought twice about trying to kill a museum curator whose thesis was on deconstructing the myth of the museum.
In the Wrath of the Furies
Bruce masters the challenge at every turn in the film. He equally shines in the role of the crazed misogynist who seeks to satisfy his bloodlust through murder. He spends a lot of time being tormented by ghosts both visible and invisible, and the twisted madness that overcomes him is almost too believable.
Bruce ends up in a nightmarish dream world where past victims dressed as Greek Furies torment him to confront his true, vile nature. In the final 30 minutes, things get so creepy that nothing but a series of strange tableaus terrorize Bruce’s brain.
Bruce receives supernatural retribution for his many crimes. This is, of course, satisfying to watch. But what makes it even more interesting is that it’s never clear to what extent these howling harpies are coming from Bruce’s mind.
Meredith plays the slow-burning tension of someone who is unaware of anything wrong, who then realizes too late and has to fight for her life with a depth and power that heightens the film’s emotional grip. Her eyes are profound and infinitely expressive, revealing so much in a single glance that you can’t help but sympathize even in the most mundane moments.
She dishes out a stunning performance as the traumatized lead struggles to break free of her tormentor. It is a compelling turn which viewers will find hard to ignore.
A Kill or Be Killed For a Couple on Vacation
Stevens unleashes an impressive array of visual delights, utilizing practical effects to convey lore-rich ideas, explore gender-based violence, and deliver a truly delicious dose of justice.
The way he threads Greek mythology into nearly every aspect of the film is a marvelous thing, but the real glory comes from how he connects the opening auction scene with the final act and builds towards that culmination. This is the kind of twisted surrealism-meets-mythological revelry that more horror should embrace. Greek mythology, and mythology as a whole, is filled with horrifying stories that can easily act as the base for more modern journeys.
A Wounded Fawn looks authentic like it was taken straight out of a time machine that traveled back 50 years. The story isn’t set in the 1970s, as Meredith uses a cell phone several times. But A Wounded Fawn wasn’t only shot on film, it was shot with an old lens whose glass properly captures the telltale lines, colors, and grain of an old Italian giallo.
To describe what happens in A Wound Fawn would require turning the coal furnace into a long-necked creature, but the actors never lose control of their characters.
The script cleverly finds ways to naturally incorporate Greek mythology into the dialogue and exposition, giving the audience important information about the plot without overwhelming them with all the trivia. Bruce’s visions of an owl demon and dead women, as well as his bloody injuries caused by his old Greek hand ax, are simple and effective.
There are extreme close-ups of what’s happening and to whom in the film. It has a trippy look and feels a lot of fleeting images in the shadows, gruesome injuries and demonic attacks, and lots of exploitative close-ups.
Add the Magic to the Horror
This film is all of a piece as it plays with expectations and keeps viewers off balance. Stevens and company put the viewer in the role of both predator and prey. They have built a clever little machine that creates fear. It slowly creeps into the psyche, a film that is a complete war against toxic men, making the predator the prey, but also giving off its constant surreal bloody nightmare.
They play with Bruce’s mind, turning brain matter into baby birds and scalding hot furnace pipes into animated enemies that want to swallow him whole. It’s also only natural that these visages take the form of his prey.
The film is well cast, cleverly plotted, and just psychological and suspenseful enough to keep viewers hooked. If you like horror films with slasher graphics and ancient Greek mythology, then Shudder has a thriller for you. If you’re willing to take this dark, creepy ride and fully commit to Stevens’ descent into mythological terror, you’ll be thinking about what you just saw for weeks to come.
This movie is streaming on Shudder, The Roku Channel, and Prime Videos.
A Wounded Fawn (2022) Official Shudder Traielr
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Hello, I'm Joycelyne. As a writer, I pride myself on offering creativity, suspense, clarity, and a strong narrative voice to all writing projects.My work grabs the reader's interest from the start and holds it to the end. I am an author, writer, translator, and English language teacher