After watching this dark fantasy/horror movie from first-time filmmaker Fritz Bohm, I couldn’t help but think that it reinvented the werewolf story the same way that Let the Right One In reinvented the vampire tale.
Her whole life, Anna (Bel Powley) has been kept hidden away in the attic of the house she shares with a man she calls “Daddy.” Every night, Daddy (Brad Dourif) reminds her of why she can’t leave her room. There’s a wicked creature in the dark forest outside – the Wildling hides in the mist, just waiting for a chance to devour her. “His teeth are sharp…and so are his nails. He ate all the other children – you’re the last one left.”
When Anna is around twelve, Daddy begins giving her injections of “medicine” for her strange malady – he tries to delay puberty from changing her for as long as possible. It’s no wonder that by the time she reaches the age of 16, Anna has become very ill. She asks Daddy to end her suffering. After losing consciousness, Anna wakes up in a hospital in a frightening, unfamiliar world.
Ellen, a sympathetic small-town sheriff (Liv Tyler), takes Anna home to live with her. Ellen and her teenage brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet) try to help Anna adjust to her strange new life…and puberty. She begins changing in so many scary ways – and curiosity and an intense attraction draws her closer to Ray.
Soon, Anna begins to realize the truth. Daddy was a wolf hunter, and she is the “monster” he had warned her about. Her new life quickly spirals out of control.
British actress Bel Powley is riveting in the role of feral, innocent Anna. She has an otherworldly, primal screen presence. One can’t help but root for Anna to survive being hunted long enough to accomplish her dream of seeing the Northern Lights.
Wildling is a worthy “fairy tale” – I give it four out of five goblins.