It’s rare when a full movie can make you laugh hard, and often, but also make you very afraid it’s going to scar you with an image that’s truly disturbing. Such is the game that Babak Anvari throws audiences into with his horror-comedy “Wounds,” his follow-up to 2016 Sun dance favorite, “Under the Shadow.” Working with Hollywood actors, a larger budget and a more in-your-face sense of humor, Anvari’s film is an exciting answer to jump scare supernatural teen movies, toying with film-making and narrative expectations while offering a whole lot of nasty, midnight-ready fun in the process.
A bunch of dumb Millennial have awoken some evil spirits, and now they’re doomed. But Armie Hammer’s hilariously cranky bartender Will wouldn’t even know about this, if he hadn’t taken home one of their phones after they left in his bar one night. It’s a big mistake to free download, because there is some extremely disturbing imagery on that phone (severed heads and EEK!) to watch online and those teenagers might be a part of some strange cult shenanigans. They might be coming after him, he might be seeing cockroaches crawling up his arm as he drives, etc.
But then “Wounds” starts to focus more on one factor that’s clear about Will, and has nothing to do with the scary stuff: he’s a reckless jerk who has an open fixation on a woman named Alicia (Zazie Beetz) and he’s about to destroy his relationship with his girlfriend Carrie (Dakota Johnson). A metaphor comes to fruition within the Lovecraft origins, and while the emotional aspects do not entirely connect to the weirder features, the overtly non-horror developments send the movie in a direction of unexpected bleakness, and it gets all the more nasty.