Danvers Mail

Haunted Teddy Bear Unleashes Sinister Force in New Horror Film

The Wraith Within


Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 30m
Director(s): Aaron Strey
Writer(s): Carlos A. Samudio
Cast: Michael Madsen, Jonathan Joss, Chris Hahn, Zara Majidpour, Joy Leigh, Sheril Rodgers, Amber Blaze Lemmond, Dimitrius Pulido, Allison Hawkstone, Wesley Blake, Frankee Romero
Where To Watch: now available OnDemand, and Blu-ray & DVD

RAVING REVIEW: THE WRAITH WITHIN brings to the screen a tale of a spirit trapped in a cursed Teddy Bear (I mean in a nutshell.) When a group of old friends reunites for their high school reunion, they unknowingly unleash this sinister force. Set in a small town burdened by a haunting legend.

Michael Madsen stars as the unflappable SHERIFF Townsend, a character who remains surprisingly unmoved no matter what happens in the film. Alongside him, Allison Hawkstone, Shane Christopher, Brian Hodges, and Zara Majidpour play the group of friends anticipating a weekend of fond memories and laughter. However, the reunion turns dark when the vengeful Wraith Within emerges to wreak havoc.

The narrative weaves the chilling backstory of the Wraith and the origins of the curse into a contemporary horror setting. Unfortunately, the film's acting and screenplay fail to live up to the premise, ultimately detracting from its potential.

As the friends gather in their hometown, they encounter growing tensions with the residents. These tensions escalate as a series of unsettling events unfold, culminating in the appearance of the haunted teddy bear (I just… I get it, but come on.) Faced with a slew of near-death experiences, the group must confront the rising body count.

The dialogue in the film could use improvement, as it neither adds to the atmosphere nor heightens the tension. Hindered by the mediocre script, the actors struggle to overcome the movie's shortcomings, highlighting its flaws. Despite the lack of creativity in some death scenes, there is enough to make you want to hold on and see how it all plays out. On the positive, I will say that the “Wraith” is fantastic; I wish there could’ve been more.

Directed by Aaron Strey and penned by Carlos A. Samudio, THE WRAITH WITHIN unfortunately falls short of a genuinely satisfying horror experience. Despite the actors' earnest attempts to salvage the movie, the end product is an underwhelming experience that fails to take the experience to the next level.

It's disheartening to see a story with such potential suffer from lackluster execution, it was apparent what they were going for, but they just never quite got there. THE WRAITH WITHIN could have been a pretty interesting story if they had kept it more grounded and focused more on the town's story instead of trying to insert so many jokes throughout.

In conclusion, THE WRAITH WITHIN represents a lost opportunity in horror. While the concept of an evil spirit escaping from a cursed Teddy Bear may pique some viewers' interest, the film's execution and lack of suspense ultimately leave much to be desired.

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[photo courtesy of GRAVITAS VENTURES]