Whilst, until recently, mainstream genre cinema has been dominated by bloated franchises and recognisable characters, there has always been room for a certain amount of imagination; hovering just below these studio behemoths. Independent horror is perennially a fertile and innovative area of film-making. There are so many great movies which you may never have heard of. Back in 2008, Bryan Bertino wowed audiences with The Strangers, which has achieved a kind of semi-cult status. The Dark & The Wicked could well follow in its footsteps.

Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) return to the scene of their childhood. To a secluded house on a rural farm in the middle of nowhere. Their father (Michael Zagst) is dying and they have both agreed to put their lives on hold to be with him through his last days. They find their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) much changed and a stifling and claustrophobic atmosphere permeating throughout the family property. There’s something inside, whispering in the darkness.

Revelling in a claustrophobic tension and a palpable dread, The Dark & The Wicked is a creepy and unsettling psychological thriller. Bertino conjures up an atmosphere of suffocating fear. Grief mixes with religious apathy. Past familial recriminations and existential crises collide to create a twitchy and nervous energy. Sumptuously shot, with a number of memorable scenes, The Dark & The Wicked showcases the best in current genre cinema.

The Dark & The Wicked screened at Fantasia Festival.