As 2022 comes to a close, a quiet November for horror finds Shudder offering another new original release. On one hand, a psychological serial killer thriller hardly feels like a fresh way to end off the year for a streaming platform that has offered some risky genre fare. If you haven’t had your fill of serial killer series on Netflix, there’s no shortage of Hollywood movies exploiting the subject. But A Wounded Fawn promises a rather unique approach that taps into Greek mythology and psychedelic visuals. To date, this experimental approach has impressed critics.
Still recovering from an abusive relationship, art graduate student and gallery docent Meredith finally finds herself moving forward. She’s found a new man who shares her passions, an art broker named Bruce. And he’s whisked her away for a weekend getaway to his secluded cabin where he promises to romance her with his culinary skills. But there’s only one problem. Bruce is a serial killer. And he’s picked Meredith as his next victim.
A Wounded Fawn Detours Its Serial Killer Narrative Into Deeper Thematic Territory
Writer Travis Stevens (Jakob’s Wife, Girl on the Third Floor) – co-writing with Nathan Faudree – doesn’t deviate too much from expectations early on. For its first act, A Wounded Fawn feels like its dutifully checking of the serial killer thriller boxes albeit with a bit more creative flair. Nonetheless, Stevens teases more standard jump scares and familiar brutality. We’ve seen plenty of movies boasting title cards and visual style that winks at the audience. But Stevens teases a different directly from the first scene. An arthouse auction serves a dual function satisfying both basic plotline duties while also laying the foundation for the thriller’s arthouse sensibilities. And this is absolutely an arthouse thriller that will challenge audiences.
But Stevens teases a different directly from the first scene.
Once A Wounded Fawn brings Meredith to the what feels like the stereotypical ‘cabin in the woods’ horror locale, Stevens abrupt introduces more supernatural elements. Yet what sets this effort apart from other horror movies is the deliberate ambiguity in its storytelling. Stevens and Faudree never spoon feed the audience. Much is left open to interpretation. Once A Wounded Fawn diverts from how you think the story will unfold it leans heavily on its themes that merge Greek mythology around the female Furies and vengeance and feminist horror.
A Wounded Fawn Experiments With Visual Styles
In addition to its risky narrative, A Wounded Fawn experiments with visuals and aesthetics. Stevens subtly incorporates bits of 70s Grindhouse, which in and of itself isn’t unique. Plenty of horror movies over the last 20 years have adopted they grimy visuals of 70s cinema. Where A Wounded Fawn diverts from those movies is that Stevens never allows the style to dominate the proceedings. Scratchy bits of film intersperse with garish colours and jarring imagery. This juxtaposition between a psychedelic and surrealist palette and the occasional rough film quality instantly set this thriller apart. While there’s obviously serial killer violence, Steven uses it sparingly. As a result, its effects are more shocking and weighty.
Where A Wounded Fawn diverts from those movies is that Stevens never allows the style to dominate the proceedings.
By and large, A Wounded Fawn relies on Josh Ruben (Werewolves Within) and Sarah Lind (Wolf Cop) with an assist from Malin Barr (Honeydew). All three performers excel in their roles, taking turns owning the narrative. With its shifting narrative and heavy focus on themes and imagery, it’s often hard to tell who’s movie it is. This is one of the movie’s more minor shortcomings. For a short time, audiences will invest in Meredith’s story before the focus abruptly shifts to Bruce. Despite the benefits of not offering us much about Bruce and his motivations, it’s something of a shortcoming that we don’t know much about what drives the character. In addition, the price of unconventional narrative is a finale that may prove dissatisfying for some viewers.
A Wounded Fawn Mixes Feminist Horror With Mythology and Psychedelic Shocks
Though it initially teases yet another serial killer thriller, A Wounded Fawn quickly sets itself apart with its thematic and visual approaches. Stevens mixes Greek mythology and feminist horror, resulting in a psychological horror that feels remarkably different from most serial killer thrillers. Intentionally ambiguous storytelling, psychedelic imagery, and sparingly used blood show restraint and maturity in filmmaking. Of course, A Wounded Fawn’s unconventional approach to the subject matter might confound some audiences. And Stevens almost lets the finale get away from him. Nevertheless, A Wounded Fawn ends up being a pleasant surprise for the genre late in the year.