Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson have a new movie opening this weekend, and you can’t see it in theaters. Wounds is premiering on Hulu, and it’s a scary movie from the director of Under the Shadow, Babak Anvari.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet saw Wounds at the Sundance Film Festival in January and spoke with Anvari in Park City, UT. Here’s a little bit more about what you can expect from Wounds, but don’t worry, we didn’t spoil any of the good parts. Wounds premieres Friday, October 18.
‘Wounds’ begins when these kids walk into a bar
Will (Armie Hammer) is a bartender who gives a group of obviously underaged kids a pass one night. They leave their phone behind, and the phone unleashes a world of horror on Will and his girlfriend Carrie (Dakota Johnson). Anvari expanded on a novella by Nathan Ballingrud.
“The book starts in the bar but you don’t really get to know the characters that well,” Anvari said. “Later, you understand more about the characters because you’re inside Will’s head and his internal thoughts, but you can’t do that in film unless you have a voiceover.”
In the opening of Wounds, you not only get to know Will and Carrie, but their friends Alicia (Zazie Beetz), Jeffrey (Karl Glusman) and Eric (Brad William Henke).
“So this opening scene in the bar gave me the opportunity to introduce all these characters, start showing who they are and tell the audience these are the main characters,” Anvari said. “So it ended up being a very long sequence whereas in the book, I think it’s only one or two pages.”
The cell phone opens up wounds
The novella jumps right to Will picking up the lost phone. Anvari took a little more time in Wounds.
“It does get left behind but it’s pretty quick,” Anvari said. “It happens very quickly in the book so you don’t get to know the characters right from the get go before the film, whereas I tried to set up the characters a little bit more in the film.”
Once Will tries to contact the owner of the phone to return it, the owner starts sending him violent images. Some of those were only added to the phone screen in post-production.
“It was a bit of a mix,” Anvari said. “Some of them were filmed, some of them were added in post which gave us some flexibility to change things and to add things.”
Armie Hammer investigates what causes the ‘Wounds’
Now that he’s stuck with this horrific cell phone, Will tries to find out what’s behind it all. The glamorous Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson become increasingly more disheveled and begin exhibiting wounds of their own. Anvari embellished some of the explanations from the book.
“The book is actually more ambiguous,” Anvari said. “I tried to flesh it out a little bit more. I talked to Nathan about what the mythology is. I thought, for me, it’s so much better for the audience trying to piece the clues together rather than just oh, this is it. I didn’t want to take away too much from Will’s journey and his descent, so there is a mythology.”
Perhaps it will take multiple viewings for fans to uncover everything plaguing Armie Hammer in Wounds.
“I left certain clues and cues and Easter eggs in there for anyone who wants to figure out more about it,” Anvari said. “Just to be respectful to the source material, I didn’t want to be super clear about what it is. The ides is this Lovecraftian thing is happening. Will is this normal guy and suddenly stumbles into this whole world and it chooses him. He’s out of his depths.”
Dakota Johnson helps research too
The further down the rabbit hole Will and Carrie get, the more they use technology to research what’s happening to them. Wounds only shows a little bit of their descent down the online rabbit hole.
“That online sequence, obviously we don’t really show the full length of his research because the film would be slightly dull if he’s just spending hours and hours behind the computer,” Anvari said. “We basically show the start of basically he’s looking at Carrie’s research into this ritual.”
Watch Wounds to find out what ritual Will has become a part of.
“He starts learning what the ritual is about, still unsure if it’s something real, if it’s just something fake that these kids are goofing around with,” Anvari said. “Those are the clues that I tried to give to the audience so that I can hopefully piece together, get a better feeling of what’s happening but again, all the stuff with the ritual and the kids I thought was a lot more disturbing and scarier if you don’t really know.”