All original written content is (c) 2016 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is ©2015 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: An old New England folktale about a Puritan (aka super-religious) family in the 1630s (about 10-15 years after the Mayflower) who gets exiled from their village and tries to set up a farm near some haunted woods, only to have multiple tragedies befall them, brought on by a witch who tests the family’s faith and turns them against each other. (And much of the audience against the film.)
- Much of the acting is actually very good, at least by the Dad William (Ralph “HARRY POTTER/GAME OF THRONES” Ineson), the young teen girl Thomasin (Anya Taylor Joy) and the whacked-out-by-grief mother Katherine (Kate “GAME OF THRONES” Dickie). Very emotional, full of tension, restraint and craziness when needed.
- For authenticity fans, here ya go. The costuming looks very accurate, and the dialog is all perfect-period, much of it supposedly taken directly from various journals, historical documents, court recordings and other period sources. (In other words, the whole film sounds like a Bible reading or a lower class Shakespeare play.)
- Pascale the Art-Boy sez, “Many of the shot setups are novel, pulling you in and also making you part of the scene.” I think that means they put the camera in cool places and do some neat things with it.
- If you like “uniquely disturbing,” here ya go too. Not like your typical horror flick. Genuine weirdness with implied sexual stuff, haunted/dead animals, naked babies, fat old naked ladies and blood (including washing milking) and guts.
- Some genuine, building tension.
- The “disappearing Sam” early on was very well done. (Only “startling” scene in the whole movie; it’s in one of the trailers if interested.)
- We get a hot, Red Riding Hood-type Angelina Jolie-like witch babe in one scene and at the end you get a group of four or five totally nekkid witchy-babes, sticking out their hinies and showing their chest fruit. (It’s only from a distance unfortunately, but you can still see the good parts; just remember no one “landscaped” back then.)
- The music score is appropriately creepy, eerie and spooky. (But has nothing to do with those comics titles.)
A lot of the “cons” are the same as the “pros”
- I’ve snarked before about many American-made historical/period films using dialog that sounds modern, with things like “don’t” and “shouldn’t” (not sure they were using contractions 200-800 years ago) or terms like “okay” and “you know.” But now I realize why: it’s so audiences in the 21st century can understand what the hell the characters are actually saying! In the beginning I couldn’t understand most of the words, and even a half hour into it I was picking up maybe every other word or even sentence. I appreciate being “accurate” an’ all that, but you’re losing half the audience with all the “Ye” and “thine” and “I canna abide,” especially when you throw in the British accents.
- A horror movie is supposed to be SCARY. Not just creepy or unnerving or tense; I wanna be friggin’ scared! All this did was gross me out a few times. Big friggin’ deal. A lot of drawn out boring calm stuff, followed by escalating tension, followed by a disturbing scene, then back to slow and boring stuff.
- If you’re gonna show the witch as both an old fat broad and a young hottie, I’d rather see the latter naked, dude. Floppy wrinkled hangers swinging to and fro only help separate my popcorn from my tummy. No way to unsee that.
- Giving a cute brown bunny orange eyes does not make it look demonic and frightful. Especially when it’s adorable li’l nose is twitching away while it looks at ya. All I could think of was the Killer Rabbit in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL—even that looked scarier, and it was hilarious!
- While three of the actors were good, the younger ones were not. And probably not their fault. There are boy and girl twins (?) who are supposed to have a demonic seizure, but it looks like they’re playing “fish outta water” or some other game.
- For you pedophiles in the audience, you may get a couple thrills. There’s a lingering shot on a nude baby boy, then a hand caressing his body right down to the naughty bit; and while I love nude babes, I prefer them to be of legal age, please. Watching a 13 -14-year-old girl’s bare ass take a long walk thru the woods is just wrong, no matter how shapely it is. (Come back in five or ten years at least!)
- Who the hell names a girl “Thomasin”? I didn’t realize it was the teen’s name till halfway in. I thought it was Puritan for “slut” or something.
- What little plot their is doesn’t thread together well at all. Are the animals witches? One witch? A demon? The Devil? They talk about someone named “Black Phillip” and we hear his voice but never see him. And be warned: the ending is not an ending. It just kind of ends during a scene. No button either, other than the explanation above about the film’s sources and influences on later folktales and fairy tales (perhaps “Red Riding Hood”? “The Angry Goat”? “The Ripped-Off Moviegoer”?).
- The above goes back to the whole “authentic” thing. Using various sources for dialog/inspiration is fine, but that doesn’t make a movie! It’s just scenes strung together for a confusing, unsatisfying mess. Yeah, I get the whole “interpretation” thing, but that can also be called “laziness.” If you’re making a film, you’re a storyteller, which means you should have a friggin’ story to start with. I’d probably “get it” more after another viewing or two, but I’d have more fun getting a root canal. It’d be more comfortable anyway.
Talk about a swing! From the best film I’ve seen this year (DEADPOOL) last week, to the worst. How this scored a 7.5 on imdb.com is beyond crazy (maybe a witch’s union got together for a mass vote). The promos make it look like a horror film when it’s more of a “psychotronic” type, “family-breakdown-mess” thing. Stephen King is quoted as saying, “It scared the hell out of me,” which I can only interpret as meaning it’s frightening how crap like this made it all the way to the multiplex in the first place.
If you want a scary Devil-Bible flick, watch THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. If you need to see a show about a witch, catch HANSEL AND GRETEL (Jeremy Renner version) or even Vin Diesel’s THE LAST WITCH HUNTER. Heck, you’re even better off binging four episodes of BEWITCHED—even the Dick Sargent ones.
P.S. Don’t be scared of getting ORIGINAL ART! The prices are heavenly and Pascale will cast a spell of fun. Just tell Craig here!