Back in 2016, Babak Anvari‘s thriller Under the Shadow became a favorite of Film Twitter, and understandably so. It’s a solid indie genre movie, and I wasn’t surprised to see Anvari’s follow-up Wounds lure big stars like Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson, let alone land at tastemaker Annapurna. What did surprise me was the film’s lackluster reception at Sundance and the subsequent decision to bypass a theatrical release in favor of a deal with Hulu.
In Wounds, Hammer plays a New Orleans bartender who picks up a phone left behind at his bar, after which strange and disturbing things start to happen to him and his girlfriend (Johnson).
I always liked that premise, but I pictured a more grounded movie, one set in the real world, not one that looks like some The Ring or The Grudge wannabe. Can you actually imagine finding a phone with some really gruesome images/videos on it? What would you do with it? Return it? Destroy it? Turn it in to the cops? Unfortunately, Wounds doesn’t seem to be that kind of movie. Instead, it seems more interested in being a creepy-crawly jump scare movie. I mean, there were so many fake bugs in this trailer that my expectations immediately plummeted. And while I like both Hammer and Johnson, neither has impressed me with their genre work, which includes Free Fire and Suspiria.
One thing that did appeal to me in this trailer was the romantic tension between Hammer and Zazie Beetz, who also plays Joaquin Phoenix‘s love interest in Joker. She’s an interesting actress who does strong work on FX’s Atlanta, and the idea of her paired with Hammer in a gnarly psychodrama is, I must admit, kind of appealing.
Karl Glusman and Brad William Henke co-star in Wounds, which will debut on Hulu on Oct. 18. Watch the trailer below, and check out Matt Goldberg’s review out of Sundance.