Maria is a young girl on the brink of adulthood. But she’s coming of age — and experiencing strange, surreal visions and premonitions — just as a mysterious epidemic sweeps the world.
As the world devolves into panic and chaos, Maria starts to develop powers — ones that unsettle her family. Maria must navigate increasingly dangerous circumstances in the world, just as the threat at home is beginning to creep into her life.
Stately in style, with stunning cinematography and beautifully composed images and camerawork, this dramatic fantasy-horror short from Ireland maximizes the power of cinematic art to create a haunting, captivating atmosphere, perfect for a metaphorical tale about an avenging goddess coming down to earth to wreak havoc.
Its story unfurls with the logic and flow of a dream, with almost free-associative editing and a haunted, drifting sense of pacing, which reflect the inner life of its central character. Yet it also excels in portraying the larger canvas of a world falling apart at the seams, through well-calibrated hints in the storytelling and effectively deployed images of dystopia.
Maria, like the viewer, is haunted by totem-like symbols and visions. In their strange and terrible beauty and savagery, they also reflect the encroachment of her autonomy and sovereignty, and her own fears and anxieties. The images themselves are often stunning in their depth of imagination and evocation of terror, and are rendered with an almost painterly sense of light and line that is both beautiful and eerie.
Actor Rayleen Kenny plays Maria with admirable restraint, navigating the line of a growing inner unease with the need to hide her experience, lest it draws even more trouble upon her. Yet her growing powers cannot be suppressed — nor her anger and resentment — and when she suffers a devastating betrayal, her powers are unleashed, enacting terrible revenge in the process.
Modern in look and feel but mythic in theme and emotion, “Wrath” takes its inspiration from the story of Badhbh, the goddess of war and destruction in Irish mythology. And like the crow that symbolizes her, the film has the power of a harbinger of doom or an ill omen, with images whose fearsome resonance is not so easily forgotten after the film ends.
In the myths, the Irish goddess of war also delivered a prophecy about the end of the world, an “evil time” rife with betrayal and deception. It’s a mythic and metaphorical prediction, but “Wrath” suggest this path is not so far away from our modern, rational world: the more choices we make that refuse to respect the wholeness and sovereignty of human bodies and earthly nature, the more chaos and destruction we sow by our own hand.