Way of the Wicked (2014)

Let me preface this review by saying that this movie knows how to market itself.

Way of the Wicked came out in 2014, and most notably stars Vinnie Jones and Christian Slater. It’s classified on IMDb as a fantasy/thriller, but once I got into it I got horror vibes more than anything. Not necessarily good horror, but it definitely leaned more towards that than either fantasy or thriller, in my opinion. The setting is a small US town, and the movie starts off with the local priest looking into the fight between a bunch of school kids that led to the death of one boy, worried that there might be something worse than foul play going on. He questions the kid who was targeted in the fight, but ends up being told to leave when he basically scares the shit out of the boy with his intensity. Cut to five years later, and we learn that the boy and his family left town after the incident and has now moved back (for some inexplicable reason), and what follows is a somewhat uneven flow of high school drama with hints of horror and — gasp! — another grisly murder.

Now, as I was saying at the start, this movie knows its assets, and how to use them. Apart from Christian Slater and Vinnie Jones, the cast is made up of names you probably haven’t heard before (although a number of them have appeared on Supernatural), and none of them are particularly good actors. The guy who plays the partner to Vinnie Jones’ cop dad was a source of irritation to me all on his own. Still, if you look at the promotional material, you will be lead to believe that this movie is fronted by Christian Slater, when in fact (spoiler alert) he only has about ten minutes of screen time in one and a half hours. The summary, the trailer — hell, even the poster features Slater prominently, which was the reason my partner and I opted to watch it at all. We didn’t go in expecting it to be good, but we did expect to see more of Slater from the looks and sounds of it. Fool us once, shame on us.

In short, Way of the Wicked takes itself too seriously, and it falls mighty short of what it could have been. The plot is a little too vague, the ambience a little too bland, and the acting sadly deters even further from my enjoyment of it. I think we laughed more than anything else, mixed with a lot of confusion over the progression of the narrative. The movie flows very unevenly; at some parts, it lost me completely on what was going on. The twist at the end did take me by surprise, but it was more because I had seen no indication that hinted at the possibility of it. It made very little sense, and left me unsatisfied with the way they wrapped things up. Christian Slater is always good to watch, and he does the best with what he’s given in this movie. Seeing Vinnie Jones as the good-guy, hard-working, newly widowed father was strange, seeing how I am much more used to him playing bad guys and general weirdos (anyone seen Survive Style 5+ or The Midnight Meat Train?), but he manages well. For all it tries to be, Way of the Wicked falls into the box of B-rate horror movies for me, regardless of the genres it may have been aiming for.

I’m not saying don’t watch it, but if you want to — don’t watch the trailer. It gives pretty much everything away, and I reckon you would enjoy the film even less than I did if you watch that beforehand. I know I have gone into very little detail about the actual plot, but I feel like it’s hard going into specifics without giving too much of the story away, which might be an indication of how thinly spread it is. If you have an hour and a half to spare, and you want to be amused, this movie is for you. Go in with low expectations, and at the very least you’ll be amused at how they opted to budget their money. Having big names will cost you — in this case, it unfortunately cost more than it might have been worth.