Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 17, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen Review: The Iron Claw

Review: The Iron Claw

Lachlan Evans discusses how 'The Iron Claw' successfully brings the true story of a cursed family to film.
4 mins read
Written by
The Iron Claw | Official Trailer HD | A24

The Iron Claw is the shocking true story of the Von Erich family, a family of professional wrestlers in late 1970s to early 1990s America. They were infamous for having a family ‘curse’ which caused unyielding tragedy to befall all members throughout their lives. For the purposes of this review, I won’t delve into the specifics of these tragedies, especially as the twists and turns this film takes you on are what makes it so entertaining, but I will say certain scenes left me feeling like I’d taken a shotgun blast to the stomach. In fact, one of the most disturbing facts I learned after watching this was that the writer actually omitted some elements of the true story in order to make the film more ‘believable’. Namely, the youngest of the family, Chris Von Erich, who struggled with asthma and a brittle bone condition, and who died by suicide in 1991 aged 21. The writer and director Sean Durkin stated, “it was one more tragedy that the film couldn’t really withstand”, and as morbid as it sounds, I actually agree.  

I have absolutely no interest in wrestling, but despite this, I absolutely loved watching the film.

Going into the subject matter of the film, I was unsure if it would really be for me. I have absolutely no interest in wrestling, but despite this, I absolutely loved watching the film. With The Iron Claw, Durkin created something that is about so much more than just wrestling. It’s about parental expectation, toxic masculinity, cycles of abuse and neglect and so much more.  

The direction is intentional and gripping, with not one uninteresting shot in the entire runtime.

From the very first scene, the writing is extremely skilful in how much information it can pack into the smallest lines. One phrase can contextually tell us so much about this family, what they value, and how they view the world. The direction is intentional and gripping, with not one uninteresting shot in the entire runtime. Just like the writing, the camera knows exactly what the viewer is thinking, controlling their expectations with the deft interplay of questions and answers, tension and payoff. This is perfectly accentuated by the score and music supervision, both of which heighten the emotional points, and easily push this into crying-your-eyes-out territory.

Every performance is phenomenal, with each member of the family being explored in great depth and feeling viscerally real. Zac Efron gives the best performance of his career in my opinion, absolutely demolishing my admittedly low expectations of the former Disney-channel star. The only thing that holds this film back in any way for me is the second half, in which I felt the ‘curse’ idea was perhaps leant into too much, becoming a bit too in-your-face and making for a couple of acts which were slightly less disarming and clever at evading my expectations than the first hour of the film. This is extremely hard for me to admit though, as multiple points in the second half brought me to tears, and I thought the ending was absolutely phenomenal. In my opinion, The Iron Claw firmly seats itself in the upper echelon of this year’s releases, and is easily one of the highest quality films in recent memory.  

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