In Its Wake (2023) Review
As In Its Wake begins, Pastor Kurdt Waidmann (Elvis Stojko, Enhanced, Ice Girls) is having a crisis of faith and asks God for a sign. He no sooner finishes than he gets the news that one of his parishioners was killed by a hit-and-run driver right outside the church. That probably wasn’t the sign he wanted, but The Lord works in mysterious ways.
In a restaurant, four friends Amy (Paige Foskett, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities), Laura (Jacqueline Godbout, Written in Red, The American Oz), Tim (Aaron Heels, Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life, Something Bad) and Manny (Kenneth Bemister, Found Footage, Four Twenty) are trying to figure out what to do with their weekend.
At a nearby table, three businessmen Mitch (Liam Seamus Murphy, King of Coke: Living the High Life, Lady Stardust), Sean (Steve Kasan, Cult Hero, The Chamber of Terror), and Sam (Thomas John Scott, Discontinue, First Burst) are doing the same. Until Sam decides to start trouble. But, before he and Tim can start throwing punches, a familiar face appears and defuses the situation.
Director Lee Foster (Black Bag, Use of Deadly Force) and co-writers Angela Cavallin (Bob and Han, Lost and Found) and Ryan Kobold, who also wrote the score, use the first act to introduce the film’s rather large cast and the first four victims the creature will leave in its wake. Unfortunately, that means a lot of the annoying squabbling that passes for friendly banter in films like this, capped off by the rather unlikely coincidence of both groups from the restaurant mysteriously running out of gas in the same remote area.
As for Pastor Kurdt, we find out he’s no longer a pastor, but he is a literal warrior for God. He and his companions are about to fight a demon known as a Drude, to reconsecrate some land. This involves performing a ritual in the shed where the first victims were killed, something that doesn’t seem to bother the trio. I just kept picturing a demon greeting a friend, “Hey my Drude, how’s it going?”
Sadly this is all very tediously paced, the first of the main cast to die does involve a nasty disembowelling complete with freezing intestines, the film is set in Canada during the winter, but there’s way too much really terrible dialogue between any scenes of interest to let the film build up any momentum. In Its Wake also not only keeps the three groups separate for most of the film but works in random locals to kill off, making it feel very disjointed at times, like a collection of individual scenes rather than a cohesive story.
We finally do see the Drude when it, big surprise, attacks two characters having sex it looks like a cross between a green baboon and the title alien from the TV show Alf, enough so that when a cat wandered by I expected it to stop stalking its victim and go after it. It’s supposed to have some connection to a version of The Wild Hunt I’ve never heard of before and something called The Duke of Crows, but it mostly seems to kill anyone unlucky enough to cross its path.
While the survivors do finally come together for In Its Wake’s last half hour, the story never really does and a lot is left unexplained. But at least the cast is too busy screaming to deliver much in the way of bad dialogue. It’s too bad they saved almost all the action for the end instead of spreading it out through the film a little better to ward off boredom.
We do get some effective gore and a bit of skin, but there’s precious little about In Its Wake to recommend it. Even the creature is a disappointment, looking like a live simian in closeups and a very stiff puppet in the few full-body shots it gets. It came as no surprise when I found a Facebook page and trailer for it under the title Hetzhund – The Duke of Crows, dating back to 2018. It’s off the shelf and available now, but if you do, make sure you have someone to wake you once it’s over.
Uncork’d Entertainment will release In Its Wake on DVD as well as to Digital Platforms on August 8th.