by E. Andreassen
**** 4 Stars
The film certainly earns its title as a psychological horror as it toys with a number of well-known fears such as entomophobia-the fear of insects-and scopophobia-the fear of being watched.
Wounds is a 2019 psychological horror recently introduced to Netflix and the film is a spine-chilling on-screen translation of the original novella The Visible Filth published by Nathan Ballingrud in 2015. The narrative follows bartender Will (Armie Hammer), working at a bar named Rosie’s based in New Orleans. However, after witnessing a violent brawl between local drunk, Eric (Brad Williams), and a patron-Will discovers an abandoned phone left behind by a group of college kids. Will decides to take the phone home with him and discovers some ominous messages from a person claiming to be under attack by something from the “tunnel.” From then on, he uncovers a series of grotesque images that begin to trigger nightmares and vivid hallucinations. The narrative alludes to the concept of a parasitic infestation and the audience are compelled to watch as an unknown entity begins to feed on the main character’s psyche and creates chaos in his life.
From an initial strand-point it is easy to assume that this new psychological horror may appear to be a swift cash-grab on behalf of the Netflix platform, however, writer and director, Babak Anvari, employs some excellent use of disturbing flickering imagery and sound design that is sure to make a person squirm in their seat, whether viewing the film on a TV, computer or phone – some viewers have even claimed the horror to be a comparison of “The Ring but with a smart phone.” The film certainly earns its title as a psychological horror as it toys with a number of well-known fears such as entomophobia-the fear of insects-and scopophobia-the fear of being watched-due to repeated imagery of human eyes- along with numerous others such as claustrophobia and mysophobia-the fear of dirt or filth.
The camera work also seems to inevitably draw in the viewer, using a shaky, hand-held format when following Will during times of distress, fear and confusion that appears to glue watchers to the edge of their seats. While the camera work itself does become tedious and disorientating at times, the style seemingly intends to suffocate the viewer by placing them in the frightening shoes of Will during his mental decline into insanity, further emphasising Wounds accomplishment as a psychological horror.
As tribute to the convincing performance of Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson-Will’s long-term girlfriend Carrie-their relationship dynamic in-film only functions as an addition to the claustrophobic nature of the film. Carrie becomes increasingly obsessed with the “tunnel” and appears to represent a symbolic entering, or manifestation, of the parasite in Will’s own home. She eventually grows cruelly distant from Will, refusing to provide him with any love and affection and chooses to exploit his personal insecurities even going so far as to accuse him of being a “mock of a person” and a “replica.”
It is this aspect of the film that encourages me to believe that Wounds is a personal commentary and the story of a man finding himself in an unstable position in his life, susceptible to temptation and incapable of self-control, despite the implication of a demonic ritual or a higher being playing at large.
Wounds is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.