Wildling review: A young girl uncovers a dangerous secret about herself as she struggles to connect with the real world after a lifetime of seclusion in this impressive debut from Fritz Böhm.

Wildling review by Kat Hughes.

Wildling review
Wildling Review

Anna (Bel Powley) has spent her life behind a closed door in a remote cabin in the woods, looked after by a man known simply as ‘Daddy’ (Brad Dourif). She lives in complete seclusion from the wider world and has been raised to fear a monster called ‘The Wildling’ (and no, it’s not one of those people from Game of Thrones). Anna’s world is shattered when Sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler) stumbles across the desolate dwelling and takes Anna into her care. Now out of the control of Daddy, Anna begins to experience the world outside her window for the first time. Everything is exciting at first, but then things start to get strange as she starts to realise that secrets from her past may unlock the truth of her nature.

Related: Raw review

Wildling marks the feature debut of director Fritz Böhm and it is one that is sophisticated, thoughtful and incredibly immersive. Böhm throws everything he has at capturing the audience’s attention from the very start and drawing them into his very dark and ethereal land. One where it is completely believable that a beast such as a Wildling could exist. Böhm strives for a fairy-tale world, in the vein of the traditional Grimm fables, and nails it. There’s an otherworldly presence that permeates through every frame and it makes for an enthralling watch. Other similar films, Raw and Ginger Snaps, have a strangeness to their fictional world’s, but there’s still something tangible to them; Wildling is a complete break from reality, which is no mean feat.

Wildling review
Wildling Review

A well-composed narrative and visual flair are only good if it is backed up by a strong cast and, luckily for Böhm, he has the simply fantastic Powley at the epicenter of proceedings. Bel Powley has long been on our to watch list and here she commands the screen with another mesmerising turn. She portrays Anna with such child-like innocence that, not only does the twenty-something year old easily pass for sixteen, she goes further back and captures the essence of a much younger child. As the story pushes forwards, she manages to morph into a ferocious and formidable female. It’s a lot for someone so young in their career to handle, but Powley shows an incredible inner strength and breadth of range.

Another film that seeks to explore the tumultuous battlefield of becoming a woman, Wildling oozes with an unexpected amount of dark charm. Raw and Ginger Snaps collide with a Grimm fairy-tale in Fritz Böhm’s knockout debut.

Wildling review by Kat Hughes, April 2018. 

Wildling is in US cinemas and On Demand now. It releases in UK cinemas on Friday 20th April 2018.