The loss of identity and privacy are truly scary concepts and horror films are finally taking a hold of it, reflecting our real fears. Unfortunately for Wounds, Armie Hammer getting spooked by a lost phone isn’t one.
Will (Armie Hammer), is a barman at a New Orleans pub called Rosie’s. He dropped out of school, abandoned all ambition in life, using his good looks and charisma as an advantage in his job. He flirts with a regular Alicia (Zazie Beetz), who always comes with her boyfriend, but Will doesn’t seem to mind. One night at Rosie’s, a big man Eric (Brad William Henke) starts a fight and gets his face slashed open by a broken beer bottle. Will keeps a cool head about the situation, while a couple college kids sitting near immediately pick up their phones and start recording the whole thing, only to leave in a hurry moments later. Once the fight is over, Will finds a lost phone belonging to one of the kids. He brings it home and witnesses a creepy text exchange, implying that one of them was violently killed. Will confronts his girlfriend Carrie (Dakota Johnson) with this issue. As days go by, things become stranger and creepier for the two, who experience creepy text, disturbing voice calls, cockroach-filled hallucinations as well as plain staring into a computer.
The plot of Wounds, at its most basic, is about a haunted phone. However, by the end of the first act there are simply way too much plot-points laid out for any attempt at a coherent story to be made. The film gets lost in its own story, mainly because it is never sure of itself. Wounds tries to do so much with its premise, but rather than grabbing your attention, it throws everything at you right from the beginning. It flows without any sense of progression, as some events don’t even get a reaction from characters witnessing them.
It’s always nice to see Zazie Beetz on screen, even if she plays a dull, semi-love interest for Will. Speaking of him, Armie Hammer as the lead is charming enough, but fails at basically everything else. All of the supposedly scary moments have very little gravity to them and that’s partly due to the reaction, or lack thereof, from Hammer’s side. Dakota Johnson is another one-dimensional woman in Will’s life, giving possibly a more lifeless performance than in 50 Shades.
As for the scares themselves, there aren’t many of them and none get the desired reaction. Some credit needs to go to the cinematographer Kit Fraser (Under the Shadow), who does his best to set-up the scares in long, sweeping takes that cruise around the house and follow scared Will around. The look of the film is solid and despite how outright bad it is, it’s never boring to look at.
Wounds’ climax is a confusing mess. It awkwardly tries to bring all loose ends together in the last 10 minutes, which results in a visible confusion after the last shot. There is no clever end to this story, nor a satisfying one.
Not only as a horror movie, but just as a movie, Wounds fails at basically everything it sets out to do. It is the definition of wasted potential and the idea deserves a second attempt to be told. The flat, forgettable characters walk through a muddled story that has no idea how it should end. It’s not fun, but at least the wounds from watching Wounds heal quickly, given you’ll forget it the next day.