Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fritz Böhm|
|Produced by||Celine Rattray|
|Written by||Fritz Böhm|
|Music by||Paul Haslinger|
|Edited by||Robb Sullivan|
|Distributed by||IFC Midnight|
Wildling is a 2018 American horror-fantasy film directed by Fritz Böhm and starring Bel Powley, Brad Dourif, Collin Kelly-Sordelet, James LeGros, and Liv Tyler. The screenplay was co-written by Böhm and Florian Eder. The plot follows Anna, a blossoming teenager who uncovers the dark secret behind her traumatic childhood. The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 10, 2018 and has received favorable reviews. It was released in the United States in select theaters and on video on demand on April 13, 2018, by IFC Films under their IFC Midnight brand.
Anna has spent most of her life in the care of a mysterious man she refers to as "Daddy" who keeps her locked in his attic out of fear of a child-eating monster called the Wildling that roams the woods. When Anna reaches puberty, 'Daddy' starts giving her injections to treat her 'illness'.
By the time Anna is 16, her severe side effects prompt 'Daddy' to attempt suicide by shooting himself in the head. Anna wakes up in a hospital after being found by Sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler). She helps Anna start her new life as a normal teenager, taking her home where Anna meets Ellen's younger brother Ray. Anna's body starts to develop, having been stunted by the injections, and her childhood nightmares return. One day, she meets a one-eyed man wearing wolf-skin. Ellen reveals to Anna that the hospital ran a DNA test and 'Daddy' is not her biological father. He remains in a coma in the hospital, the right side of his face disfigured by the shot.
In the school library, Anna finds pictures of the Northern Lights and feels a strong pull. The Northern lights come alive on the pages and she realizes her senses are particularly acute, allowing her to hear other girls making fun of her. When she kisses Ray at a party, she is shocked when her mouth starts to bleed, prompting her to flee. Lawrence, a local bully, attempts to rape her and Anna instinctively tears his throat out with her teeth after hallucinating that it was the Wildling attacking her.
The next day, Anna returns to town, having realized that her bleeding mouth was caused by her human teeth being pushed out for sharper teeth, and observing that her nails are longer. The Wolf Man tells her that those like her were killed in the last 'purge' sixteen years ago, and directs her to an underground cavern where he says she will find her mother. Discovering her mother's sharp-toothed skeleton, Anna has a vision that reveals that her mother was killed by 'Daddy' before he took her away as a baby. Shaken, she sees 'Daddy' at the hospital, who has awoken from his coma. She is later arrested as Ellen has discovered Lawrence's body.
That night, Anna is visited by 'Daddy' in jail. 'Daddy' tells her that she was a mistake and gives her a syringe that he implies contains a lethal dose of her medication. Anna refuses to take it and escapes. Ray agrees to drive Anna north into the forest where she hopes to find the Northern Lights. The two have sex that night, Ray assuring her that he is not concerned about her changes as her nails grow longer and fine hair is found on her back. The next day, Anna finds that claws have grown on her feet. Ray is injured by a group of hunters led by 'Daddy', prompting Anna to leave him.
Months later, the hunters corner Anna in the forest. A now dark-skinned and near-furry Anna kills Ellen's deputy Roger, who was trying to kill her, and reveals to Ellen that she is pregnant with Ray's child before fleeing.
The hunters start a forest fire that forces Anna to dig into the underground cavern. She now has big hands and canine-shaped legs. She is shot by 'Daddy' with a tranquilizer dart. He attempts to perform a cesarean on her but she is able to fight off the drugs, subsequently tearing his throat out by unhinging her lower jaw. She collapses and regains consciousness when the Wolf Man finds her and stitches up her scar from the attempted cesarean.
The next morning, Ellen and Ray are part of the group exploring the burned forest. Although they see Anna on the other side of a lake, they allow her to depart into the wilderness. Weeks later, Anna witnesses the Northern Lights somewhere far north as she holds her newborn child. She is now fully transformed into a Wildling with black skin, black fur, and messy hair. In the distance, she hears the call of another Wildling.
- Bel Powley as Anna, a teenager who is secretly a Wildling.
- Aviva Winick as Little Anna
- Arlo Mertz as toddler Anna
- Brad Dourif as "Daddy," a man who took in a younger Anna.
- Liv Tyler as Sheriff Ellen Cooper, a sheriff who rescues Anna from Daddy.
- Collin Kelly-Sordelet as Ray Cooper, the brother of Ellen.
- James LeGros as Wolf Man, a mysterious person who tells Anna of her Wildling origins.
- Mike Faist as Lawrence, a local bully that runs afoul of Anna.
- Troy Ruptash as Roger Fowler, a deputy who works for Ellen.
- Trevor E. Dickerson as Wildling
- Alina Cho as the voice of the newscaster
- Patrick M. Walsh, Brian Donahue, and Don Hewitt as Hunters
Wildling is the directorial feature debut of Fritz Böhm, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Florian Eder. The film was produced by Maven Pictures (US) in co-production with Arri Media (German), Film i Väst and Filmgate Films (both Swedish) and in association with IM Global and Night Fox Entertainment.
International sales were handled by IM Global, which first introduced the film to buyers at the European Film Market (EFM) during the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. On February 18, 2016 Screen International announced that UK rights were acquired by Warner Bros. On February 19, 2016 Deadline Hollywood reported the closing of distribution deals for Latin America, South Africa, Switzerland, Portugal, Middle East, Turkey, Thailand, Israel, Ex-Yugoslavia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Baltic States and Vietnam. On February 7, 2018, Variety reported acquisition of the film's release rights in the United States by IFC Films.
In an interview with Film Inquiry, Bel Powley talked about what originally drew her to the film, saying, "I've always wanted projects that kind of subvert tradition and the norm, and I think that's something that Wildling really did from the first draft I read." With Inverse, Powley described the film as a "story about becoming a woman in our society and the obstacles you're faced with." In an interview with Vulture she explained, "What Anna goes through in the movie is symbolic of what every girl goes through when they become a woman."
Brad Dourif said in an interview with Rue Morgue, "When I was first offered the part [of Daddy] I wasn't initially going to do it. But before I actually said no, I wanted to talk to the director [Fritz Böhm] first. I told him about how, as a parent, I was interested in the idea of it, but that I wanted to play the character in a certain way. We worked through it, and after our discussion I wanted to be a part of the film. It was really the theme of fatherhood that compelled me to take it on."
Production was first announced on October 5, 2015 and filming took place in late 2015 over 23 shooting days in various locations in the state of New York, including a natural stretch of the Bronx River within the Bronx Zoo, the town of Congers, the Sleepy Hollow police station, Rockland Lake State Park and Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan. In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Böhm spoke about the challenges of working with child actors, water scenes, animals and special effects makeup on a limited budget and schedule. During a Q&A in the Arena Cinelounge Hollywood, Böhm revealed that the film's elaborate cave sequences were entirely shot in a warehouse in Brooklyn against blue screen, "since real caves don't exist within the 23 mile radius of Columbus Circle, Manhattan in which the movie had to be shot in order to fulfill the requirements for New York City's film incentive program."
Production designer Lauren Fitzsimmons told audiences at South by Southwest that the attic of "Daddy's house", which is seen in the first 15 minutes of the film, was a set she "built in the same Brooklyn warehouse in which the cave scenes were shot". In a Q&A at the IFC Center (New York City) moderated by Boaz Yakin, Böhm explained that, during the editing process, he drove to the Redwood National Forest in Northern California to shoot additional nature footage by himself as a "one man second unit".
Böhm worked with Arri Media in Munich, Germany where the film was mixed in the Dolby Atmos format. The film was color-timed by Florian "Utsi" Martin, and film editor Peter Boyle served as creative consultant in the editing process. The film comprises roughly 350 visual effect shots, for which Böhm utilized his background as a post-production supervisor and visual effects artist in his native Germany.
Wildling premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 10, 2018.
IFC Midnight released the film in the United States and Canada on VOD and Digital HD on April 13, 2018, as well as in select theaters starting in New York City and Los Angeles. DVD and Blu-ray release in the United States is scheduled for August 7, 2018.
In the UK and Ireland, Warner Bros. released the film theatrically on April 20, 2018. Other theatrical releases included Russia on June 22, 2018 (as САГА О ЧУДОВИЩЕ. СУМЕРКИ) and Turkey on June 22, 2018 (as Yabani)
The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an R rating "for violence including bloody images, language, some sexual content and teen drinking." The British Board of Film Classification rated the film suitable for 15 years or older for "strong bloody images, threat and language".
The original motion picture soundtrack was released digitally on April 13, 2018. It features the film's score composed by Paul Haslinger, and the main title song "Wildling" written, performed and produced by Linda Perry.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68%, based on 41 reviews, and an average rating of 6/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The Hollywood Reporter included Wildling in their "10 Best Films of SXSW 2018". The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe wrote in his review "Whether representing an unsettling allegory of adolescence or a fortuitous convergence of contemporary social issues, IFC Midnight's April release will provide a new perspective on themes of female empowerment before carving out a unique niche in home entertainment formats." Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+ score with reviewer Leah Greenblatt calling the film "a clever, sharp-fanged mélange of classic midnight-movie horror and modern indie ingenuity." She wrote further, "As Bohm, assisted by vivid visuals from Get Out DP Toby Oliver, steers Wildling toward its gruesome, hallucinatory climax, the film loses something in logic but gains a visceral, almost volcanic momentum." Los Angeles Times's Noel Murray wrote "At its best, Wildling is very smart about how we humans like to compare ourselves to animals" and wrote the film "offers a darker, artier take on one of the classic horror premises: the misunderstood adolescent monster." Sara Stewart of New York Post called the film "skillfully directed" and pointed out Bel Powley's performance, "Powley uses her expressive face perfectly as the guileless Anna."
Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times called Wildling a "creature feature" that is "functional but lacks flavor." Kenigsberg noted that Powley "is well suited to her character’s wide-eyed wonderment" but found the movie suffers "when she turns into a special effect".
/Film's Meredith Borders called Wildling "such an assured debut, darkly mystical and elegant" and described the film as "a really smart approach to an ageless tale" with "great performances and some extremely effective gore." Jacob Knight of Birth.Movies.Death called the film "beautifully composed" and said that "Bel Powley is incredible as Anna". Vicki Woods of Morbidly Beautiful called the film "a powerful fable". She wrote in her review, "Wildling is a moodily atmospheric thriller combining supernatural scares with a myth-like tale of self-discovery and a beautiful coming-of-age tale" and "the acting throughout is terrific, but it is Bel Powley that takes the movie to another level." Heather Wixon of Daily Dead wrote, "Powley delivers a truly powerful portrayal". Charles Early wrote on Austin360, "Director Fritz Bohm has created a misunderstood creature for the ages". Brian Williams of The Hollywood Outsider wrote, "The masterful direction of Wildling cannot be overstated. With only a two million dollar budget, Böhm pulls off a cinematic miracle that can only be compared to some of the independent upstart movies like Desperado and Clerks in that the budget-to-quality ratio is off the charts."
Alex Arabian of Film Inquiry called Wildling a "wildly original creature feature that transcends the horror genre" and the third act "visually rewarding". He wrote "Wildling is a film about growing up as an outsider, becoming a woman, being free from oppression, and loving your body as it is." He also pointed out the performances by the main cast, writing "Horror legend, iconic character actor, and Oscar nominee Brad Dourif, Liv Tyler, and rising star Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) give a trio of superb performances. As the central and titular character, Powley delivers yet another powerhouse performance, following her The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Carrie Pilby roles." He also noted the work of cinematographer Toby Oliver, writing he did "a phenomenal job lighting and shooting the film". Paul D'Agostino of Hyperallergic called the film "captivating" and wrote "Fritz Böhm's debut film Wildling is cloaked in mystery, dark and dank, occasionally bloody, sometimes shocking, and fantastically folkloric." D'Agostino compared Wildling to Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In and a number of films by Guillermo del Toro and M. Night Shyamalan.
Looper called Wildling "one of the best movies of 2018".
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