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 Liv Tyler, Bel Powley, Brad Dourif, Collin Kelly-Sordelet, and James LeGros. 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 spends her childhood confined in an attic bedroom by the man she believes is her father, Gabriel Hanson. He tells her that a child-eating monster called the Wildling roams the woods. When Anna reaches puberty, Gabriel begins dosing her with leuprolide to suppress estrogen production, explaining that he is treating her "illness." Anna suffers terrible side effects from the leuprolide and asks "Daddy" to kill her. Gabriel however cannot bring himself to shoot her and instead turns the gun on himself.
Anna awakens in a hospital. "Daddy" has survived but is in intensive care. Anna accepts the offer of sheriff Ellen Cooper to temporarily stay at her home. She befriends Ellen's brother Ray and attends the local high school. Now free of leuprolide, Anna enters puberty. She develops superhuman hearing and feels drawn to the forest and the Northern Lights.
A DNA test reveals that Gabriel Hanson is not Anna's biological father. Ray takes Anna to a party where they share a brief romantic moment. Anna's mouth suddenly begins bleeding, and after rushing to the bathroom, she loses some teeth. Anna flees out the window. Outside, local bully Lawrence tries to rape her, and she rips out his throat with her teeth. Confused and frightened, Anna realizes that sharper teeth are pushing out her human teeth and her nails are slowly becoming claw-like.
In the woods she encounters a one-eyed outdoorsman in a wolf pelt. He tells her that he has not seen one of her kind since the town conducted "the purge" sixteen years ago. He tells her she will find her mother in a nearby cavern, and there Anna discovers a fanged skull with a bullet hole in the forehead. Anna suddenly remembers "Daddy"/Gabriel shooting her mother. Gabriel, who was participating in the purge, could not bring himself to shoot the human-looking baby Anna, and instead he hid her away.
Anna returns to Ellen's home, where Ellen handcuffs her, apologizing and explaining that the police have discovered Lawrence's body beside the dress Anna was wearing. Anna is jailed. That night, Gabriel visits her and tells her that sparing her life was his greatest mistake, as it meant breaking his oath "to kill all the Wildlings." He hands her a syringe with a lethal dose of leuprolide, urging her to take it. Anna refuses, and the next morning when Ellen checks on her, Anna locks her in the cell and escapes.
Ray drives Anna north into the forest. Abandoning the car, they go into the woods, and that night they have sex. The next morning they are ambushed by Gabriel and a group of hunters. During their escape Ray is shot in the arm. Knowing that Ray's life is in danger as long as she remains with him, Anna runs the other way, leading the hunting party away.
Three months later, Anna has transformed almost fully into a Wildling. Ellen follows the hunters on one of their expeditions into the forest, where Anna kills several of them, including a hunter holding Ellen at gunpoint. Ellen allows Anna to escape after seeing that she is pregnant. The hunters set the forest on fire, herding Anna in a direction where Gabriel can shoot her with a tranquilizer dart. He attempts to perform a c-section on her to claim the unborn child, but Anna fights off the drugs and kills Gabriel. The one-eyed outdoorsman finds her and stitches her wounds.
The next morning Ellen and Ray, exploring the burned forest, see Anna from afar. They allow her to escape into the wilderness. In the final scene, Anna has traveled far north as she cradles her newborn child under the Northern Lights. In the distance, she hears the call of another Wildling.
- Liv Tyler as Sheriff Ellen Cooper, a sheriff who rescues Anna from Hanson
- Bel Powley as Anna, a teenager who is secretly a Wildling.
- Aviva Winick as Little Anna
- Arlo Mertz as toddler Anna
- Brad Dourif as Gabriel Hanson, a man who took in a younger Anna.
- 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 Fuller, a bully killed by 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 was on 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 70% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "Wildling's feminist themes – and the ferocious Bel Powley performance that brings them to life – are often enough to make up for its narrative deficiencies." 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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