Pyewacket – Canada, 2016

‘Be careful what you wish for. Someone might be listening.’

Pyewacket is a 2016 Canadian horror thriller film written and directed by Adam MacDonald (Backcountry, 2014). It stars Laurie Holden, Nicole Muñoz and Chloe Rose.

A frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl awakens something in the woods when she naively performs an occult ritual to evoke a witch to kill her mother…

IFC Midnight acquired U.S. rights to the film and it will be show across the world, beginning in March. It also arrived in the UK on digital HD April 16th and DVD on April 23rd from Signature Entertainment.

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“Beautifully shot with impressive performances all around, what’s great about Pyewacket is that it never over plays its hand. MacDonald is never trying too hard to shock the audience and is more determined to make his film believable than anything else. In that regard, he still delivers on his promise and offers up a shocking finale that’s equally crushing as it’s mortifying.” Brad Miska, Bloody Disgusting

“The film makes good use of sound (example the crescendo of traffic noise) for scare effects. The cinematography (the woods with no leaves) by Christian Bielz also adds an eerie creepiness. Pyewacket ends up a solid scare flick but it could do with more gore and violence.” Festival Reviews

Pyewacket takes a simple story – a modern interpretation of an age old morality tale – and spins it out slowly to ratchet up the tension. It’s steeped in horror lore to please the fans – Leah even journeys into Lovecraft’s old home town of Providence, Rhode Island, so seek out an author she believes might help – yet this never seems gratuitous…” Jenny Kermode, Eye for Film

“MacDonald is trying to be a filmmaker of ideas here (as opposed to in Backcountry, which worked purely viscerally), but the metaphor doesn’t develop or deepen as the film goes on. Instead, it just sits there, heavy and inert, while the camera creeps through the woods Evil Dead-style…” Adam Nayman, Cinema Scope

“The film isn’t terrible per se, it just feels underwhelming right up to and including an ending that screams “ho-hum.” […] Munoz doesn’t get much help from a pedestrian script although the wraith-like demon is quite well done. The result is a horror-lite film that barely increases the heart rate.” Peter Howell, Toronto Star

“As with the recent The Devil’s Candy and IT, MacDonald’s film makes a point of ensuring we care about the lead which in turn adds an intensity to the scenes of terror and danger. And some of those scenes are fucking terrifying. The presence first makes itself known through sounds around the house before eventually appearing as a dark figure rising slowly at the foot of Leah’s bed.” Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

“MacDonald and his sound crew really crank up the volume, which helps every crunching leaf, whistling wind and creaky floorboard stand out. Horror movies are notoriously reliant on their soundtrack – be it score or sound effect – and MacDonald’s heightened sensory output definitely helps to keep Pyewacket a tense and involving viewing experience.” Joe Lipsett, Bloody Disgusting

” …the heavy-handed score, narrow performances (Nicole Munoz as the repeatedly terrified daughter; Laurie Holden as the dense mum) and weak dialogue all fail to justify a provocative ending that overturns the exorcising conventions of the genre.” Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

“Despite some half-formed, but well-meaning performances, its slow, dread-less and fairly stale dramatically, making it thoroughly difficult to care about. There’s definitely talent on the screen somewhere, but as a piece of genre filmmaking, this one takes itself much too seriously, and never fully manages to make a proper splash, or a splash of any kind really.” Ben Robins, HeyUGuys

“An effective, small-scale supernatural-psychological drama rooted in credible, uncaricatured teen angst and a sense of ancient woodland evil […] In a measured performance, Holden alternates between bewildered concern for a self-harming teenager and icy, contemptuous malice – while Munoz is impressive as a girl terrified of the consequences of her own feelings.” The Kim Newman Web Site

” …one of Pyewacket’s triumphs is the way it keeps its horrors grounded in reality, and its character in the forefront, proving you can be both smart and pretty scary; a good lesson for the genre. MacDonald’s first feature, the excellent 2014 thriller Backcountry, posed the question: Does a bear scare the crap out of you in the woods? Pyewacket delivers another excellent query, and one with no easy answers.” Chris Knight, National Post

Pyewacket is a memorable entry into the genre of dark, disturbing horror (à la recent gems Kill List or The Witch) that is certainly not the fun, disposable watch its teen-goth-Wiccan premise might suggest. With it, MacDonald solidifies his status as a talented horror director with a knack for choosing interesting material that suits his sensibilities (and abilities).” Teresa Nieman, Screen Anarchy

“It feels like a 30 minute piece that’s been steamrollered out to feature length […] If movies like The Witch (which I will admit I loved) or It Comes At Night worked for you then you might want to give Pyewacket a watch, but those who require something a little faster paced be warned: this is a Very. Slow. Movie. Where Not. Much. Happens.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema

“Assuming you can handle the tension, this would be a great entry-level movie for someone wanting to get their feet wet on the witchcraft/occult side of things. There’s very little blood, nothing gory, a few mild jump scares, but that’s not really where the soul of this film lies. Its strength is in the tension and growing creepiness as things slowly spiral out of control.” Scariest Things

Cast and characters:

  • Laurie Holden as Mrs Reyes
  • Nicole Muñoz as Leah
  • Chloe Rose
  • Eric Osborne as Aaron
  • James McGowan
  • Bianca Melchior as Pyewacket


Pyewacket was one of the familiar spirits of a witch detected by the “witchfinder general” Matthew Hopkins in March 1644 in the town of Manningtree, Essex, England.

Wikipedia | IMDb

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Categories: 2016, Canadian, occult, witch or witches

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