Movie Review: Vengeance is a dish best served Demonic…and Greek — “A Wounded Fawn”

If you like your horror movies slasher-graphic and Ancient Greece demonic, has Shudder got a thriller for you.

Well-cast, cleverly plotted and just psychological and suspenseful enough, “A Wounded Fawn”is a serial killer thriller with an art world setting and a delicious comeuppance via carnage payoff.

It’s a bit slow in the later going, but Travis Stevens’ (“Girl on the Third Floor”) latest film works on several levels, due in no small part for a good cast that buys in completely.

An art auction ends with this disturbing perhaps-ancient Greek statue of some lesser deities not going to the guy who really, really wanted it.

But Bruce (Josh Ruben) is determined to get it, for “my client,” so he says. That’s why he followed highbidder (also by proxy) Kate (Malin Barr) home. Nothing at all creepy about that, or about Bruce’s twitchy, touchy vibe.

Bruce makes an offer, Kate drives a harder bargain, but eventually they reach a deal and she invites him in. That’s the last invitation she ever proffers.

Bruce is into art and artsy women and this statue, perhaps, in particular. And after this first murder, we see that he gets his jollies is “Psycho” sexual ways. How long before he gets the urge to “meet” another woman in art?

Meredith (Sarah Lind) is just getting over a breakup so bad it put her in therapy. But this weekend, she’s informed her BFFs, she’s about to get some. No, the friends don’t get to meet this guy until she decides if he’s worth their meeting.

When her paramour shows up at her place in a 1980s Mercedes for their trip to his tony, art-filled cabin-in-the-woods, our alarm bells go off for us — it’s Bruce — and she starts hearing disembodied female voices of warning.

“Get OUT of there!”

The effects — visions of an owl demon and dead women, bloody injuries caused by Bruce’s ancient Greek fist-maul — are simple and modestly effective. The entire enterprise has a trippy look and feel — darkness, fleeting images in the shadows, grisly injuries and demonic assaults and lots of close-ups and extreme close-ups of what is happening, and to whom.

It’s the players who make this, with Ruben, whom you might recognize from the movie “Plan B” or a couple of little-seen sketch comedy series, making a vile but almost funny psychopath, the sort who sees himself as a victim of what he does.

The Canadian Lind and Swedish-born Barr are also in the more-familiar-looking-than-famous category in their careers, but both buy in to the trauma they’re suddenly confronted with and build instant empathy as the real “victims” here, women we hope can fight back or at least find their revenge.

This isn’t “Babadook” alarming or “Barbarian” suspenseful, and it never quite overcomes the limited budget, which makes its tone all the more impressive despite the remove it creates between antagonists and the viewer. But it works, it gurgles and it bleeds out, right on queue, which is exactly what we come to want and expect it to do.

Rating: unrated, graphic, bloody violence

Cast: Sarah Lind, Josh Ruben, Malin Barr

Credits: Directed by Travis Stevens, scripted by Travis Stevens and Nathan Faudree. A Shudder release.

Running time: 1:31

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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