Pyewacket, the second feature from Canadian actor turned filmmaker Adam MacDonald, revolves around a goth, occult obsessed teen (Nicole Muñoz) who’s upset and inconsolable when her grieving mother (Laurie Holden) makes the decision to move to a cabin in the country in a bid to leave the memory of her deceased husband behind. Frustrated at the lack of consultation and perceived ignoring of her feelings, the young girl performs a dark ritual to the titular spirit and wishes her mother dead. Very quickly, the girl realizes that was a terrible idea, but, you know, be careful what you wish for.
While Pyewacket feels like large swaths of narrative have been chopped out in a bid to keep the running time lean and mean, writer-director MacDonald has still mounted a delicate character study where the viewer is left to question what’s really going on instead of having everything devolve into a jump-scare packed fright-fest. The unexplainable phenomenon could be psychological just as much as it could be supernatural, and MacDonald’s attention to detail and imagery combined with the great performances from Muñoz and Holden makes this one a cut above… until maybe the last five minutes, which are fine, but somewhat predictable and easily telegraphed.
Is Pyewacket essential viewing?
MacDonald continues to grow as a filmmaker, and Pyewacket is more assured and nuanced than his previous, decent effort Backcountry. Those who like their scares a bit more psychological would find this one of particular note.