Review by Jay Bowman
If you fail to develop your main character, will your audience care about his plight? The answer, a resounding “no,” should be well understood at this point in movie making, yet occasionally a film manages to boldly move forward without bothering to invest time into actually building its characters. Wicked Witches is one such movie.
Mark (Duncan Casey) has been kicked out of his home by his wife. He’s been less than faithful and needs a place to go. He gets in touch with his old pal Ian (Justin Marosa), a man he hasn’t seen in at least ten years, and asks if he can crash at his place, an old farm in the middle of nowhere. Even though it’s very obvious from their telephone chat that Ian ain’t quite right in the head, Mark takes him up on the offer, fondly reminiscing about the old days while ignoring the blatant signs that Ian is a bit nutty. Worse still, he plans on throwing a huge party like in the old days to get over his problems.
That is just about everything we learn about Mark throughout the film: he’s a terrible husband, he has at least one friend, he’s nostalgic, he enjoys parties, and he’s oblivious. He doesn’t come across as a strong character one way or another, but he’s the lad we’re attached to for the film. As you might have gathered from the title, wicked witches are afoot, using the farm and its parties to lure in unsuspecting men to cannibalize them.
If that last sentence sounded exciting to you, consider the following:
– The movie is just under an hour and twenty minutes, and the wicked witchery only happens forty or so minutes in. Before that, we have lovely driving sequences, fake-out dreams of wicked witches, and at least one discussion of porn addiction. That is to say, nothing of value happens for the first half of the move, so you can’t be blamed for losing interest beforehand.
– The very low budget used to make this movie means that the wicked witches have to limit their on-camera wickedness. There’s lots of dismemberment and disemboweling, but the camera tends to cut away during the act in such a way that you rarely see it happening in one shot. I can understand using camera tricks to hide limitations of effects like these, but not at the cost of making your violence look like a Monty Python bit.
The second half of the film is simply Mark evading witches. Blood and screaming and neat make-up and silly voice effects can’t carry things when we’re never given a reason to care about Mark. Sure, he might redeem himself if he doesn’t get decapitated, but he doesn’t show any desire to do so, thus he’s just kind of a guy who cheated on his wife now facing witchcraft judgment. And so the world turns, I suppose.
If you want to analyze what’s happening and try to sift for a deeper meaning in the story, you might find some half-baked ideas about the dangers of addiction, but even I can’t make that stretch at my most pretentious. If I had to guess, I’d say the Pickering Brothers just wanted to make a spooky film with little cash, but sadly the pieces don’t fit. With the underdeveloped characters and bare-bones plot, there isn’t anything substantial to latch on to as a viewer. Performances are either sleepy or hammy (sadly not enough of the latter), so no one stands out by the time the credits roll. The horror doesn’t work because we’re neither afraid for Mark’s life or rooting for its grisly end. I’m a big champion of less being more in storytelling, but that doesn’t mean you get a pass for doing the bare minimum required to have a story.
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