The aspect of “Wounds” is interesting in seemingly how it is initially portrayed. Even though it made its premiere at Sundance, the texture seems to lend itself to a series, and maybe undeniably an anthology though the cast does not seem as accurately aware of this as maybe the audience is. The set-up is kept fairly vague although the intention points to a book called “The Testament Of Wounds” which speaks to opening to possession of higher beings, whatever structure of course that might mean. Like “The Ring”, the aspect of a physical construct whether in the mind or otherwise, as keyed in here by the tunnel that begins the film and shows up on certain character’s viewscreens, is interesting.
The cast is top notch although the material is more than a little abstract considering many are coming from or have been more in major studio pictures. Armie Hammer is definitely playing outside his comfort zone but it is undeniably a part that others could have played. He shows the psychological structure but does not necessarily make it his own (though it can be effective. The same can be said for Dakota Johnson, who doesn’t have a whole lot to do besides move the plot forward. Zazie Beetz, soon to be seen in “Motherless Brooklyn,” is the more engaging one but many of these characters seems to be adrift in life looking for purpose or just actually realizing what their status quo is.
New Orleans definitely creates an inherent feeling even if the locations are a little restrictive. There is a sense of the darkness and light just off screen. Unlike something like “True Blood” that was shot in Baton Rouge, this does feel inherently local. The issue is that mood can only save so much and the lack of a true narrative connection causes an inherent disconnect in the story. While there does not need to be an unending barrage of exposition, a clearer storyline would work better. Even “Eraserhead” had a vague idea where its protagonist was going.
“Wounds” could be an ongoing series exploring more of what could be in terms of the mythology and the texture of this selection that creates grief. But grief needs a reason to be and not to just exist for itself. This is where “Wounds,” despite its pedigree, falls short.
By Tim Wassberg