Three films about…witches: The Love Witch (2016), The Last Witch Hunter (2015) and The Witch: A New-England Folktale (2015)
Why am I writing about these movies now?
Well, I’m moving my back catalogue of movie (and occasionally TV) reviews from another site to Medium — covering many of the best-known releases of the last decade, as well as more obscure fare. To make it a bit more fun, I’ll be grouping them thematically (as here), but unless I spot actual errors I’m not doing any editing…so my opinion may have changed since I first wrote them!
My reviews of new cinema, streaming and disc releases, as well as retrospectives on old (and not-so-old) classics, will mostly continue to appear on the Medium publication Frame Rated.
Anyway, here goes. Enjoy…
The Love Witch
It is very easy to see The Love Witch as all style and no substance, but perhaps the style — a brew of Hitchcock, Hammer, Sirk and Stepford — is simply concealing the substance.
This tale of a witch in small-town California, set in what we first believe to be the 1960s but later realise from glimpses of technology must be the 1990s at least, reads superficially as comedy-horror (it has a little of the feel of True Blood); it takes us a while to realise that there is nothing truly horrifying about it, and that whatever is comic emerges largely from the extreme stylisation adopted by writer-director Anna Biller rather than from any genuine sense of humour.
Beneath the surface, it’s far from flippant, and asks (without fully answering) a difficult question: is Samantha Robinson, the titular sorceress, weak because all she wants is to get a man, or strong in the ruthlessness with which she sets about this? Is even this seemingly powerful, independent, transgressive woman defined by her relationship with men?
That such a theme manages to survive the baroquely ornate film-making style of Biller — who also served as producer, music supervisor, film editor, production designer, art director, set decorator, and costume designer, though she seems to have drawn the line at catering accountant — is in large part down to performances that are compelling even while they are as exaggerated as the rest of the movie.