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A Wounded Fawn
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Movie Reviews

Shudder Original ‘A Wounded Fawn’ is one of the year’s most unique horror films

It’s like two movies in one.

Just recently, I was thinking about the trend of giving modern films a “vintage” feel. I watched The Viewing, directed by Panos Cosmatos as part of The Cabinet of Curiosities anthology on Netflix. The Viewing has a very 1970s look to it — everything has a yellow hue, there’s lots of lense flare happening, and everything’s a bit desaturated. The Viewing was a disappointing installment of the anthology, and it made me think that Panos Cosmatos is the Urban Outfitters of horror directors. Loved by many, but really delivering style over substance in a way that feels empty and over-hyped. 

We’re not here to talk about the director of Mandy, though. We’re here to talk about A Wounded Fawn, a new film that really makes this “vintage” visual style make sense. If you’re going to make something new look like something old, there has to be a good reason; not just because you think it will sell. A Wounded Fawn was shot on 16mm film. While this aesthetic, when coupled with synthesizers in the score by composer Vaaal, could be just as contrived as every other “retro-looking” horror film out there, it really works in A Wounded Fawn — and it looks great. 

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A Wounded Fawn is artsy and it knows it. The film, directed by Travis Stevens, acknowledges this right away; our main characters live in the art world, immersed in the world of fine art auctions and extreme wealth. A Wounded Fawn also wastes no time diving into horror and a bit of surrealism; Bruce Ernst (Josh Ruben) is a serial killer, and we get to find this information out about his murderous proclivities before our other main character, Meredith Tanning (Sarah Lind), will.

Meredith is just starting to feel better after lots of therapy in the wake of an abusive relationship. She’s really looking forward to a weekend away with Bruce, only she doesn’t know what we know about Bruce. Actually, she doesn’t know much about him at all. As they drive to their destination, they discuss their college majors and longest relationships. This is, all things considered, one of the less believable elements of the story in A Wounded Fawn. Of course Meredith is excited to “get back on the horse”, so to speak, but most people do know to vet their dates very carefully before going away for a weekend with them. Especially if they’ve just recently exited a dangerously abusive relationship.

A Wounded Fawn

Shudder

When Bruce truly reveals himself to Meredith, Josh Ruben’s performance as the unhinged serial killer is entirely believable. However, the character of Bruce up to this point is less so – he throws up some very obvious red flags and he and Meredith lack a basic chemistry that would make this relationship feel more real.

A small bronze sculpture called “The Wrath of Erinyes” is an important set piece in A Wounded Fawn. Not only is the sculpture an important plot piece, but it’s also meant to ground the film’s mythology tie-in. It seems pretty obvious from the beginning of the film that the Greek myth of the Furies, goddesses of vengeance, will play a role in the story. The mythology of the furies seems to mainly be used as an avenue for cool effects and weird scenes in the film’s second act. It’s an exploration of a hallucinatory visual style that looks really cool, but unfortunately comes without the interesting narrative that propelled the first act. At least, the costumes and practical effects are great; and the score truly amplifies this throughout. 

A Wounded Fawn

Shudder

It’s tricky to work mythology into a modern story; in Men this was done somewhat successfully- while the overarching theme of Men was about as subtle as a hammer, mythology was woven in fairly quietly. The first act of A Wounded Fawn brings in mythology in an exciting and mysterious way. By the second act, there’s no mystery left, and rather than an interesting parallel or exploration of the myth of the Furies, we’re just given an obvious representation. 

At some point in the second half of the film, we see Bruce struggle with his true nature. He’s more concerned with getting these three goddesses of divine retribution off his back than he is with guilt over what he’s done. A Wounded Fawn may have been more interesting if a few women – maybe even women with backgrounds in art history and Greek mythology – had had some input in the script. 

A Wounded Fawn certainly pulls off the visual style that it’s aiming for, and it’s an entertaining, unusual ride from start to finish. It leans too heavily on symbolism and mythology, though, in a way that ultimately falls flat.  I’m not sure what writers Nauthen Faudree and Travis Stevens were trying to say through this use of mythology, and I’m not sure that they knew, either. The two parts of A Wounded Fawn are each interesting – and visually stunning – but they fail to come together as one cohesive and captivating narrative. 

A Wounded Fawn comes to Shudder on December 1, 2022. 

A Wounded Fawn
Shudder Original ‘A Wounded Fawn’ is one of the year’s most unique horror films
A Wounded Fawn
Great costuming and hallucinatory visual effects look excellent in this two-part film, but unfortunately, come without the exciting narrative that propelled the films first act.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Visual style and score complement each other perfectly.
Sarah Lind’s performance.
The script leaves much to be desired, especially in the second act.
Poorly done attempt at a feminist narrative.
Feels like two entirely different movies.
End credits scene (skip it).
5
Average

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