It’s easy to say that we are shaped by our past on the person we eventually become. I wonder sometimes though who someone becomes after a traumatic event in their childhood. No one really becomes Batman, you are scarred and forever changed. I end up wondering about the obstacles people face in returning to their regular life as they learn about the things they missed out on. These thoughts are only brought upon me after seeing a story about someone who was rescued and the events that come after. Fritz Böhm’s film “Wildling” tackles some of these questions but with an added twist.
Anna (Bel Powley) has never seen the outside world other than from a window in her bedroom. It’s in this room she stays in and never leaves as Daddy (Brad Dourif) keeps her in there to protect her from the wildlings, goulish creatures he says will devour her if she was ever to leave the room. Daddy does everything he can to protect her which includes daily shots to her stomach until she reaches the age of puberty. That protection ends when daddy comes to a tragic end, and she is introduced to the real world when sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler) comes and takes her back to her place since she has nowhere to go. Soon after Anna is exposed to strangers and kids her own age she begins to experience new things both physically and mentally as she is brought into a world she knows nothing about.
“Wildling” has the makings of a good creature feature but it gets lost in its delivery. The story written by Florian Eder and Fritz Böhm seems to stumble more in the second half of the film after a pretty solid first half. It felt like everything was being built up to something big and or surprising, so when it fails to deliver it really hurts the film. The dealings with a child being confined for years, hidden away from the world brings with it a human factor that has been done before in a memorable way. Obviously there are echoes of 2015’s “Room” which was a drama but this film manages to make you feel for Anna and the performance that Bel Powley delivers really takes it there. It’s when we lose that humanity that the film losses its touch and becomes something a little less appealing. While Powley is still quite good, the other performances are nothing special and feel like they just occupy the world instead of making an impact on Anna’s life. I did appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to attempt with this story, but they just got hung up on the follow-through as it mixes coming of age with horror. That is “Wilding” in a nutshell, a film that is not much of a stand out and while it has its good moments, for the most part it just blends into familiar territory.