By GRACE DETWILER
Starring Sarah Lind, Josh Ruben, Malin Barr
Written by Travis Stevens and Nathan Faudree
Directed by Travis Stevens
A Shudder Original
Travis Stevens’ A WOUNDED FAWN gives away precious little in its official synopsis, which describes the film as “the story of Meredith Tanning (Sarah Lind, Jakob’s Wife), a local museum curator who is dipping her toe back into the dating pool, only to be targeted by a charming serial killer (Josh Ruben, Scare Me, Werewolves Within). When a fateful romantic getaway between the two becomes a tense game of cat and mouse, both must confront the madness within him.” What the film has in store, however, is a hallucinatory nightmare inspired by Greek mythology and the visual arts. All in all, A WOUNDED FAWN is this year’s most successful piece of Shudder Original content, a breath of fresh air with enchanting cinematography and spectacular visual effects.
Fresh out of an abusive relationship, Meredith meets the handsome art dealer Bruce (Josh Ruben), who invites her to spend a romantic weekend at his stylish secluded cabin. Meredith tentatively agrees, but soon realizes that Bruce is not quite who he says he is after noticing a stolen statue of the Erinyes, three greek goddesses of vengeance, in his possession. More commonly known as ‘the Furies,’ the Erinyes are Megaera (“the grudging”), Alecto (“the unceasing”), and Tisiphone (“avenger of murders”). Ironically enough, Bruce is a serial killer and had stolen the statue in question from his last victim, a fellow art dealer named Kate (Malin Barr). After attempting to kill Meredith in service of the specter of a giant red owl that haunts his subconscious, Bruce is hunted through his property by the Erinyes themselves, who take the form of the women whom Bruce had violently attacked.
Without revealing too much, it is safe to say that A WOUNDED FAWN is a one-of-a-kind film, with a refreshing approach to filmmaking that will keep you engaged from the first shot to the last. What the film may lack in depth of meaning, it makes up for with style. The film’s critique of gender-based violence is lukewarm at best, yet new and old fans of Giallo films and the serial-killer subgenre writ large should find something to love about A WOUNDED FAWN.
The cast’s central trio of Ruben, Lind, and Barr is another highlight of the film. Lind and Barr additionally portray the Erinyes themselves, joined by Katie Kuang – who also plays Leonora – another victim of Bruce’s. While the audience is left to decide if the Erinyes actually appear to Bruce, or if he is simply suffering from hallucinations brought on by blunt-force trauma, the conclusion of A WOUNDED FAWN brings along a satisfying end for the killer of women. Forced to reckon with the evil inside himself, Bruce is made to see the error of his ways as he is psychologically tortured by the Erinyes, or simply Meredith herself.
Most notably, A WOUNDED FAWN is a remarkable aesthetic experience. Shot on luscious 16mm with a gorgeous sonic landscape, the film’s psychedelic visuals and restrained use of CG are grounded by practical effects and Ruben’s performance as Bruce. A WOUNDED FAWN is a must-see and one of the year’s best; don’t miss it!
A WOUNDED FAWN is available to stream on Shudder as of December 1, 2022.