Wounds (2019)

Being about a barman in New Orleans who discovers a haunted phone, Wounds has the minuscule focus and limited square footing of a great short horror story, silly concept included. It doesn’t try to branch beyond the orbit of these few characters – you’ve got the bar, a few car rides and a couple of apartments – and is all the better for it.

Hammer makes for a good frazzled, sweaty lead. The guy is a complete mess from the jump and therefore a refreshing choice to lead a horror movie. The design and themes are extremely J-horror, but it’s also reinvigorating to see that influence flexed in a film that isn’t just an outright remake of a J-horror property. A lot of the most piercing moments stand-out because they offer an American spin on shocks that we’re so far used to seeing exclusively in foreign horror. Beyond that, just the way this creates an uncomfortable atmosphere purely from toxic relationships is very effective.

Sure there are a few scares involving the mobile phone that are extremely dumb, but props to Babak Anvari for being one of the few filmmakers trying to engage with the modern world and modern technology in service of a spook story that actually plays it straight. It doesn’t quite get there but it’s the attempt that counts. By the time the credits rolled I was sure they arrived about twenty minutes too early. It’s not often I see a contemporary horror movie that leaves me wanting more, not less.

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