A clever structure makes this witch story all the more compelling.
Synopsis: Witches don’t die before leaving their legacy.
There is a willingness in Two Witches to throw everything at the screen and while that willingness won’t work for everyone, it is commendable nonetheless. Witches in horror go through various stages of representation, from the ‘is she or isn’t she’ ambiguity of films like The Witch, teenage experimentation in The Craft to the overtly sinister in the likes of Suspiria. Two Witches arguably feels closer in tone to something like Drag Me To Hell, with loud noises, gurning and gore taking a leading role.
The structure of Two Witches is an interesting one, constructing itself as an anthology (told in chapters, as is the trend) made up of two stories that interconnect as well as further teases to further entries into that world. It is an ambitious move, but the handling of each section allows director Pierre Tsigaridis (sharing writing duties with Maxime Rancon and Kristina Klebeto) to show their capabilities in establishing characters and situations with precise efficiency.
The first section features Sarah (Belle Adams) as a woman whose recent pregnancy discovery has arrived with a side order of extreme anxiety. Boyfriend Simon (Ian Michaels) dismisses her concerns for the most part, electing to take his clearly spooked partner to visit friends Dustin (Tim Fox) and Melissa (Dina Silva). Continuing with their sequence of poor decisions, the quartet indulge in some spooky pursuits and things, unsurprisingly escalate.
That first section contains a lot of the jump scares of the film, but balances this with shadows moving in the background and a genuinely oppressive, unpleasant atmosphere that is well earned. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes and admittedly, as someone who isn’t as keen on jump scares, my patience was tried a little. For me, the part that shines is the early parts of section two, featuring Masha (Rebekah Kennedy in a very strong performance). Kennedy has more than a little of the Sissy Spacek’s about her, allowing her to effectively play with the nuances of the character, switching from vulnerable to dangerous within an instant. This segment picks up on a far more interesting exploration of witches as a legacy, with power craved rather than objected to.
The over reliance on shots of women in various stages of facial contortion does become tiresome, even when interspersed with the gorier imagery and character development. It feels like a bit of a shortcut that the film takes too often and this loses the impact. Still, this is a film that is practically decadent with its horror images and some of it will likely test even hardened viewers.
If you are looking for something noisy, unsubtle with an interesting take on witches, Two Witches is definitely worth your time and attention.
3 out of 5 stars
For more information on the Salem Horror Festival please see their webpage.