“In Its Wake” promises a supernatural creature feature with a compelling mix of religious horror and thrills. But does it deliver?
In Its Wake landed on digital this month (August 2023). Read on to find out if you should Rent it, Stream it, or Skip it.
Directed by Lee Foster and written by Angela Cavallin and Ryan Kobold, In Its Wake promises a battle for survival between supernatural forces and a man who has strayed from God, with two unsuspecting groups caught up in the middle. Such is the brief premise and, initially, not too much to get excited about.
Did I mention it’s also a creature feature? Ok, now I’m excited.
The pre-credits scene takes us into the Church, where we are introduced to a man who is questioning things and looking for direction from the lord, and, as we know, the lord moves in mysterious ways. He learns of the death of a parishioner from a hit and run, seemingly setting the events to follow in motion.
Three years later, we are quickly introduced to two differing groups who are there to serve purely as fodder for the upcoming battle between good and evil. They both set off on their journeys, only to find that, mysteriously, they have both been victims of sabotage.
Further exposition from the now ex-man of the cloth explains that following his move away from the holy path, a Drude has been unleashed on the world. This is a being that takes part in a wild hunt controlled by the Dark Crows. He further explains he must find a place to sanctify and face this monster in a final conflict.
The main film starts in a diner where our two sets of characters are given their moment to establish what they are all about. Group one is a brother and sister (Tim and Laura), with BF Manny and Amy, all of which fit a standard profile – idiotic older brother, gothy rock type with an attitude, the nice sister, and her BF who is by far the most likable. Group two consists of three businessmen, who are characterized as a self-proclaimed alpha (Sam), Mid-alpha (Sean), and one geek (Mitch) — a geek because he wears glasses and sits in the back of the car.
None of them leave a mark on you. And if you have seen enough of these films, you know they will not be with us for long.
At this point of In Its Wake, in steps the MVP.
Following a brief argument between Tim (Aaron Heels) and Sam (Thomas John Scott), Kurdt (Elvis Stojko) sends the two packing.
After being introduced to numerous lackluster characters, Stojko as Kurdt brings a steely kind of strength and authenticity while conveying he is not quite right.
What films like this need to keep viewers on the hook is a lot of action to distract from all the talking and exposition.
The first bit of said action comes to us through some metal types dispatched off-screen. While off-screen kills are a drag, this is to be expected. A filmmaker understandably doesn’t want to show his hand too early, and we are at least treated to some suitably gross sounds during this scene.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of talk from both groups before things start to happen.
Eventually, both cars are sabotaged, leaving them stranded in the snowy wastes. This leaves an opening for the Drude to do its thing. Meanwhile, Kurdt set up the final battle zone where the metal types from earlier meet their grisly end.
When things do happen, they are handled well, such as the frozen intestine handiwork that befalls Sean, with the animalistic growls off-screen causing Alpha and Geek to make tracks.
The problem is that there feels like an age between attacks, and we spend the in-between with more padding that turns this into a trial of endurance.
There’s a great quick-cut overhead attack that excited me and got me prepared for the film to really kick into high gear.
Unfortunately, they fumbled this opportunity with pacing problems and losing the momentum they built up in favor of more backstory.
Some probability plotholes arise, which you could forgive if In Its Wake focused more on the visceral action.
Eventually, as is predictable from the first introduction of our characters, the two groups — or what remains of them — intersect and become a single unit.
A couple of cool scenes with a surprising bit of horror in the film’s final third made me sit up and take notice. But these moments of brilliance were as frustrating as they were satisfying. Clearly, the filmmakers are capable of delivering cool kills and subverting expectations. But it only made me regret that there weren’t many more of these moments, as much of the film is a chore to get through.
We get some more narrative explanation about what the creature is, what it wants, and why these particular individuals have found themselves thrust into terror. Unfortunately, it all feels a bit tacked on and rushed at the end.
The “climactic” ending of In Its Wake is so flat that it barely registered, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I felt disappointed because it could have easily been so much better if they had leaned more toward the supernatural aspects of the film.
What we end up with is a film that feels confused about what it wants to be, ending with a thud instead of a bang.