Five teen stereotypes; Claire, the nerd (Holly Taylor), the rich bitch Brooke (Alice Zeokolski), the timid M.J. (Tara Robinson), sporty Greta (Adrienne Rose-White ) and Jules, the goth (Britt Flatmo) meet each other in detention where they learn of Jules’ abilities in witchcraft (as is often the case). Before long they convene in the woods just outside of their small New England town (which of course has a history of witchcraft) and before you can say The Craft, they form a coven. At first they revel in their new-found powers, but soon all that spell-castin’ begins taking it’s toll, as the girls begin to suffer physically from their magic…the law of equivalent exchange and all that. Soon the coven is wracked with strife, and a mystery from decades past may claim their lives!
I was surprised by The Witch Files. First of all, the cast is really strong, and not full of the typical annoying teens you would expect to find in a low-budget The Craft meets Mean Girls pastiche. Unbelievably, I became invested in these ladies’ journey from high school cardboard cut-outs into practitioners of the dark arts, and ended up actually giving a damn about them as the story played out. Additionally, the pace is quick, and the script is interjected with moments of humor that make the picture more personable. Also of note, the mythology and world building on display is tight and adds a lot of depth to the proceedings, and the effects utilized to show our protagonists’ preternatural powers are well done.
On the (kinda) negative side; The Witch Files is presented as a found footage affair, but this gimmick adds nothing to the narrative outside of providing an excuse for fast set-ups and janky shots that take a bit off the bottom line of the film’s budget (although the lighting and many shot compositions are well done, which sort of breaks the found footage conceit…further making it superfluous).
Included on this DVD release from Dark Sky films is a commentary from Writer/Director Kyle Rankin (that details the film’s production in an lively conversation that is an enjoyable listen), a behind-the-scenes featurette, and the film’s trailer.
In the end, I would easily recommend The Witch Files to those that dig on high school horrors, the films referenced above, or even material such as Buffy The Vampire Hunter; it’s an entertaining fright flick that is well made and acted, and manages to be a bit more than what it appears on the surface.