WARNING: Major spoilers for The Dark and the Wicked ahead
The Dark and the Wicked is a supernatural horror movie about the Strakers, an estranged Texas family struggling against what seems to be a devil that has targeted them and their home. The mystery of this devil’s origin as well as the movie’s ending, though relatively straightforward, could use some explanation. The movie follows siblings Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) as they experience horrifyingly inexplicable events at their parents’ farm. They have come to help their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone), who has been taking care of their ailing, bedridden father (Michael Zagst) for a long time without their help. She warns them to go away, but they refuse, thinking she is being unreasonable. The siblings have been estranged from their parents for a long time, and they struggle with feelings of guilt, especially now that their father is on his deathbed. This guilt is what originally compels them to ignore their mother’s warnings to go away.
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The siblings immediately notice that their mother is not behaving like herself, and they are unable to understand why. She continues to warn them to leave, but they are determined to stay. That night, she mutilates her hand and hangs herself in the goat house. They discover her suicide the next morning and, amid their grief, begin wondering why she would kill herself. They look for answers everywhere, including with the priest (Xander Berkeley, The Walking Dead) and the nurse (Lynn Andrews) who had been helping their mother in the absence of her children. The nurse tells them that their mother had been talking to an invisible someone, possibly a wicked creature; the priest tells them that their mother and their father had come to him for spiritual help when they needed it. The siblings refuse to believe their mother’s suicide has anything to do with the supernatural despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
As they struggle to find answers for their mother’s suicide, the siblings find her diary. In it, she describes a devil that is trying to steal her husband’s soul. She writes that this devil is everywhere and that it makes her want to die. Although the diary explains their mother’s suicide, the siblings still don’t want to believe it had anything to do with the supernatural. They accuse the priest of filling her head with those ideas, implying her death is his fault. He defends himself and says that despite their beliefs to the contrary, evil does exist in the world, and it’s already in their house. The nurse tells them the same thing, adding that only love can protect a soul from evil. The nurse’s comment about love protecting the soul from evil seems to haunt the siblings; it adds a horrifying twist to the regret they already feel for not being there.
What Happens In The Dark And The Wicked’s Ending
The siblings witness increasingly frightening supernatural events until they become almost impossible to deny. Louise finally gives in to the fact that their mother wasn’t crazy—she was right—there is a devil after them. Michael, on the other hand, wants to put it all behind him and do what they both should have done from the beginning—leave. Unfortunately for them, it’s too late. While Michael is on his way home, the granddaughter (Ella Ballentine) of family friend Charlie (Tom Nowicki) shows up at the farmhouse with news of her grandfather’s suicide. Charlie’s granddaughter turns out to be an apparition, and it attacks Louise and then disappears. Shaken, Louise calls Michael, but he doesn’t answer. When the nurse arrives, she prays for Louise’s father and sits down next to him to knit. Louise calls her brother again and finally gets him on the line. He tells her that he’s on the road and has been driving home all night.
As Louise begs her brother on the phone, the devil slowly tries to take control of the nurse. Michael tells Louise that she should leave, that there is nothing left for them there. He tells her that they don’t matter and that she should save herself by leaving. After they hang up, the nurse screams from the other room and Louise rushes to her. The nurse has stabbed herself in the face and attacks Louise right before she stabs her own eyes out, seemingly talking to Jesus. As Louise lies on the floor unconscious, Michael is just arriving at his home, expecting to see his wife and children. When he finds them, they are all dead, throats slit around the kitchen table. Despondent at their deaths, he slits his own throat, and just before he loses consciousness, he realizes that their bodies were just another apparition, meaning that he failed to escape the devil’s clutches.
Louise wakes up to the sound of the phone ringing, and she finally realizes that she has to leave, not knowing that it’s too late. She apologizes to her wheezing father, who now seems to be a few breaths away from dying, and leaves. She falls down the stairs outside, and when she hears him gasping and coughing, she can’t bear to go. She goes back inside and tells her father that she won’t leave him. She hears the devil mimicking Michael’s voice, calling her for help, and shouts back at it in defiance. The house creaks while Louise holds onto her father in his final moments. When he takes his last breath, she begs him not to leave her, and then she wails in sorrow. A moment later, she is distracted by her mother’s voice singing in the other room. Just as she turns toward her father, the devil grabs her and she screams.
The Dark And The Wicked Creature Explained (Is It The Devil?)
The element of The Dark and the Wicked that needs the most explanation is the devil that has targeted the Straker family and their home. In the movie, the devil’s origin is never mentioned, and a reason for its appearance is never given. The priest and the nurse sort of allude that the devil may have gotten a taste for the father’s soul because of his estrangement from his children. This idea is not fully explored, however, either to enhance the movie’s sense of mystery, or simply by mistake. Either way, the true nature of the devil is not represented consistently in the film. It seems to be waiting for the father to die, but is fully able and content to be very active killing as many people as possible, even friends and acquaintances of the family. If the devil wants the father’s soul, it’s not clear why it needs to torture everyone else.
The devil in The Dark and the Wicked seems to have a thirst for souls that are just about to leave the world of the living. It gets additional kicks by making life unbearable for those who happen to be around. Not much more is certain than that. According to the mother’s diary, the devil simply wants the father’s soul and makes her want to die. The logic behind this is completely hidden in the movie, which leaves speculation the only way to explain it. Where the devil comes from and its religious affiliations are also not clear. Even the devil’s name is left out, which is relatively strange for supernatural horror movies that feature devils and demons. The only time that the devil is named is in the mother’s diary, though she could have been using “the devil” as a generic name, for lack of a better term.
The devil that plagues the Straker family in The Dark and the Wicked certainly doesn’t seem like the typical literary depiction of Satan. Instead, it appears to be more of what might be considered a demon or a poltergeist because of its behavior. It likes to make objects move around the house; it likes to create apparitions to frighten and torture its victims. Whenever the devil is visible in the movie, it is very much shaped like a man and can apparently take on the form of other people. All of the devil’s vagaries in the movie might seem like a mistake on the part of the filmmakers, but these vagaries do coincide quite perfectly with what might be the movie’s main thesis: evil is everywhere, and regardless of its origin, its name, or the religious beliefs of its victims, it will come for anyone careless enough to get its attention.
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