It is very rare to find a movie that draws you in from the first couple of minutes, but Wildling was able to do that. That was just before it dwindled into a Twilight and sci-fi hybrid.
Wildling starts with a father telling his daughter Anna (Bel Powley), a story about a creature with long nails, long dark hair all over its body, and an appetite for children. No matter how scared the little girl looks, “Daddy” (Brad Dourif) does not stop telling the story. Daddy keeps Anna locked in her room in the attic at all times, using her fear of the Wildling. He also lies about the outside world. When Anna starts to grow up and ask too many questions, Daddy considers killing her but then turns the gun on himself. Taken to a hospital in the outside world, Anna discovers the new world she has never seen and realises that she is the creature she fears.
This plot line is perfect for those looking for a non-cliché horror/creature film and it hits all the right marks until Anna slowly turns into the Wildling, which looks a lot like a vampire with hair. Anna’s love affair with Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), the brother of the town’s Sheriff Ellen (Liv Tyler), also asserts the copied vampire theme and hints “inspired by Twilight.” Near the end, after Anna fully transforms, there is an action sequence as she tries to escape a group of men trying to hunt her down, and it just drags this film off the edge.
Bel Powley portrayed the confusion of a girl seeing the world for the first time brilliantly, as well as Anna’s confusion about her body and what she is becoming. Powley was one of the best things about this film with her wide-eyed expressions and her scared animalistic demeanor. Brad Dourif was able to seem sadistic from the beginning to the end of the film, making the audience hate him (proving that he is doing something right). That being said, Dourif could have portrayed his character’s love for Anna, despite her nature, in a more sincere manner.
Collin Kelly-Sordelet’s role as Ray was small but done very well; his performance is not over the top and the way he showed his gradual interest in Anna was spot on. Liv Tyler’s role is a disaster: she was better at playing the role of mother, than she was at playing the role of Sherriff. This calls into question why the role was even written as that of a sheriff in the first place.
The first half of the film is absolutely great. Indeed, with more focus on Anna and Daddy, and less focus on the action sequence at the end, this film could have been extraordinary. It is not really a horror feature but its first half is worth watching and may be enough to redeem the second half.