A Wounded Fawn (FANTASTIC) Reimagines a Bold Greek Myth
Title: A Wounded Fawn
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Travis Stevens
Writer: Nathan Faudree, Travis Stevens
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Starring: Josh Ruben, Sarah Lind, Malin Barr
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival in 2022.
Meredith (Sarah Lind) is excited to spend a weekend away with a new man she met, Bruce (Josh Ruben). She doesn’t know much about him, but she looks forward to learning more about him. Besides his charm, she knows he is a great cook, lost both of his parents, and is a purveyor of great art. As their evening goes on, Meredith finds herself experiencing a series of unsettling experiences that she cannot explain. When she shares her fears that something might not be right with the cabin, Bruce gets agitated. While she is dead set that the cabin is haunted, she is unaware that Bruce’s anger stems from the fact that he is a serial killer, hoping to end the evening with his favorite part of the ritual.
Feminist flipped script slasher; A Wounded Fawn crafts a hallucinatory journey into the psyche of a serial killer.
One of the most intriguing aspects of A Wounded Fawn is its narrative structure. One prologue and two acts tell the tale of a particularly unhinged serial killer forced to confront the evil inside him. What makes it different is the pacing of these actions. Once the title card for act two is revealed, it takes the story in a new and unexpected direction that allows for said exploration to take place. While both Josh Ruben and Sarah Lind deliver quality performances, this is where Ruben gets to go above and beyond in his portrayal.
A Wounded Fawn details the depths men will go to in order to absolve themselves from their sins. As Bruce is confronted with his transgressions and his true nature, he breaks down as he cannot accept that he is to blame. He points the finger instead at a broken piece inside of him that is truly responsible. Throughout the film there are allusions to the Wrath of Erinys. Typically associated with the torment of those who commit patricide or matricide, A Wounded Fawn flips the script on a serial killer who targets women. The women he has killed take on the likeness of the Furies, allowing them to inflict the psychological torture they would inflict in legends and art.
Opting to switch points of view halfway into the film, A Wounded Fawn makes plenty of daring decisions with Bruce. He continually makes things worse for himself, as he could have ended his suffering before it even began. With so many choices, Bruce continually opts for self-preservation. There is no guilt or shame in his actions, and even when he realizes he does wrong, Bruce takes every chance to obviate himself from responsibility. Campy in execution but serious with its commentary, Bruce is made to debase himself until the bitter end for his crimes.
Strong visuals help maintain a constant sense of dread. There is clearly something wrong with this cabin and Meredith knows it. Even before Bruce goes off the deep end, little clues are left behind to help show his history. Once it switches gears, the horrors transcend into something more fitting a haunted house rather than a serial killer’s den. This is where A Wounded Fawn gets trippy as it leans into the bizarre horror that is Bruce’s nightmares. Featuring plenty of over-the-top gore, A Wounded Fawn makes great use of its practical effects to create a disorienting journey for Bruce and all those psychologically tormenting him.
A hallucinatory and disorienting ride, this pseudo-slasher wins points for its creative premise and assault on the senses. Exploring the mind of a serial killer is no easy task, but the journey is much more engaging when you’re accompanied by the literal demons inside his mind. Both Lind and Ruben give incredible performances but Ruben’s work as the charming killer turned blubbering victim is one for the ages. Fans of metaphorical horror and subversions on old formulas will find much to rejoice here. If you’re on the hunt for something different, give A Wounded Fawn a spin once it’s available.
Overall Score? 6.5/10