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Two Witches Grimmfest film review

★★★

Directed by: Pierre Tsigaridis

Written by: Kristina Klebe, Maxime Rancon, Pierre Tsigaridis

Starring: Rebekah Kennedy, Danielle Kennedy, Ian Michaels, Clint Hummel, Dina Silva, Belle Adams

Grimmfest Film Review by: Darren Tilby

 


 

Pierre Tsigaridis' Two Witches is a tale of two halves: one half, a richly sumptuous homage to the classical era of 70s horror; the other half sees a film that struggles to find solid footing upon a winding path, which crisscrosses through chapters, but which also never really goes anywhere, and fails to explain why when it does.


It's a real struggle to talk about the story of Two Witches. The film is set across three chapters (Chapter 1: The Boogeyman, Chapter 2: Masha and Epilogue), and we're introduced to a string of characters and stuff happening, but there's a distinct lack of anything cohesive in its narrative. I appreciate the characters and events of each chapter are linked, but it's not always clear how or why or to what end events in each chapter happen; as such, it is difficult to understand what exactly is supposed to be happening at large. The film does mention, as the credits begin to roll, the story will continue. This could be a good move; try to tie up some loose ends and unanswered questions. But, as it stands at the minute, as a story, on its own, it just doesn't work quite as well as it could.


During the movie's 95-minute runtime, we're bombarded with a torrent of heavily gore-laden practical effects—no bad thing! But there's a discrepancy in the quality of said special effects throughout the film, ranging from serviceable to excellent, seemingly as the film goes on. The cast of characters and the writing also suffers the same inconsistencies: some characters come off as entirely unlikeable (and not in the way they're supposed to be), while others have a much more relatable disposition; and the writing (particularly in the dialogue) flitters between cringy lines awkwardly delivered, and solid, occasionally profound moments of contemplation.


There are some incredibly effective scares here, also. But the understated beauty of figures moving in the background and mysterious shadows in the dark is ruined, at least occasionally, by the movies' bizarre insistence of pointing these things out. Bursts of loud music, designed to shock, and quick-cut editing highlight things that would be better left to ambiguity.


The performances, however, are solid throughout, with Rebekah Kennedy giving a standout performance in chapter 2 as the titular young witch, Masha; her performance is wonderfully unhinged, creepy and terrifying in its playfulness. It plays perfectly into the retro feel held by the movie, which Tsigaridis perpetuates through stylistic choices pertaining to classic 70s horror cinema. But it's undoubtedly a respectful homage to the era; at no point do the filmmakers resort to the lazy copy and pasting of earlier films—Two Witches (at least in this way) stands on its own two feet! There are flashes of Dario Argento's Suspiria in its dizzying lights, disorientating camera work and vibrant colours on display, and maybe a hint of Rosemary's Baby in its theme of predestiny and devil worship.


The rich, sumptuous colours and set design, along with incredible cinematography and sound design, makes for a well-put-together film, a well-crafted homage to 70s horror cinema, which, unfortunately, fails to live up to its full potential because of a brash attitude and convoluted plot.


 

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