Babak Anvari’s first movie Under the Shadow was a captivating international horror. Set in Iran, the real world was just as dangerous for its female heroine as the supernatural. Wounds is a more American movie from Anvari.
Will (Armie Hammer) is a bartender in a place where it seems everybody knows your name. He’s got regulars, including volatile war vet Erik (Brad William Henke). Will even lets minors get away with their fake IDs because he figures let them have their fun. When a fight breaks out, one of the kids leaves their phone behind. Will discovers disturbing texts and even more disturbing pictures on it. He wants to give it back but he’s already sucked into the consequences of the kids’ violent cult ceremony they dabbled in.
Like Under the Shadow, Wounds introduces the mythology well. It’s a bit more complicated in Wounds because there are several factors. There’s the phone that ultimately won’t let Will give it back. There are the photos which are disturbing enough but not specific enough to help Will get to the bottom of it. There’s some body horror Will experiences.
There’s also just as much human drama as in Under the Shadow. There’s Will and his girlfriend Carrie (Dakota Johnson) and the strain of their relationship. There’s the love triangle between Will and his ex Alicia (Zazie Beetz) and her boyfriend Jeffrey (Karl Glusman). The horror exacerbates their human issues.
Wounds isn’t quite as sound as Under the Shadow. The mythology is compelling but it may have bitten off more than it can chew. Any of the individual symptoms of this curse are interesting and scary, but it’s a tad harder to see how it all connects. I truly have no idea what the end means, but it was fun getting there.