‘A Wounded Fawn’ Review: “Mythological 16mm Horror”
Director Travis Stevens has been known to create empowering female stories through different genre lenses. With A Wounded Fawn, Stevens has crafted a mythic and horrifying tale from the perspective of one troubled individual. The film tells the story of Meredith (Sarah Lind), who has just gotten out of an abusive relationship. Her attempts to reconnect with herself and others lead her to become ensnared by Bruce Ernst (Josh Ruben), a man who plans to murder her in his secluded cabin.
The logline of A Wounded Fawn sells the film as your typical “cabin in the woods” story. However, A Wounded Fawn is anything but a typical horror film. In fact, Stevens subverts the genre on its head and shifts perspectives after the film’s first act. All eyes are on Bruce, who suddenly finds himself atoning for his actions in unexpected ways.
A Wounded Fawn is shot in glorious 16mm film, giving the movie lived in an old-school aesthetic. While taking place in the modern day, the film’s cinematography makes it feel like something you’d find in the basement of a decrepit theater. The camera work thrives on close-ups and unconventional perspectives. Paired with clever editing, A Wounded Fawn feels like a film out of time. Moreover, the performances of the leads in the film add to the vintage feel of the movie.
READ: ‘Smile’ Review: “Familiar But Intense Horror”
Sarah Lind plays a competent horror movie protagonist, bringing believability to her situation. However, the set-up leading to her situation is anything but believable. Nonetheless, Stevens is able to bring out a visceral performance from Lind. Despite the horrifying larger-than-life occurrences in the film, A Wounded Fawn feels incredibly real and intimate, and Lind accentuates that. Acting opposite Lind is Ruben, and this performance is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film.
Bruce and his perspective propel the narrative of the film in unexpected ways. Separated into two acts, A Wounded Fawn flips the cabin in the woods trope on its head, diving into the mind of Bruce’s troubled psyche. Stevens kills two birds with one stone thanks to this narrative structure. Not only do viewers get a troubling and terrifying look into Bruce’s mindset as a serial killer, but the hallucinatory (or maybe very real) visits he gets from the furies of Greek mythology double as revenge and empowerment for the women he wronged.
A Wounded Fawn turning into a revenge drama halfway through the film is a bold move. It works for the most part, although sometimes it feels like the script drags in certain moments after that. Stevens and Cinematographer Ksusha Genenfeld get extra points for style, though. The high-concept film is a brave attempt at trying something different with horror.
Moreover, the transformation of Greek legend into a way to address the anger female victims feel when robbed of their agency and beauty makes A Wounded Fawn an inspired effort. Although there are issues with pacing, leads Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben definitely help to make it more tolerable. – Ernesto Valenzuela
A Wounded Fawn Will Be Streaming on Shudder in 2022.
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