The Dark and the Wicked

Two adult siblings return to their family’s secluded farm to help their mother deal with their dying father’s last days. Before long, they sense that something more than heavy sorrow is in play here. An unseen, evil presence is taking over the family, toying with them, and manifesting itself in vile possession and waking nightmares.

Writer/director Bryan Bertino’s (The Monster, Mockingbird, The Strangers) modest little film is one for those who take their horror straight, visceral and bleak. And it gets this month’s award for doing a lot on a tiny budget. His expertise is evident in every tense, unpredictable scene. There’s nothing life-affirming here. The gore, while understated, is truly gut-wrenching when it pops up. This restraint elevates (levitates?) this one above the horror pack. (95 min)