Parties are usually a pretty good indicator that summer break has arrived. And it’s at a pool party that we find our boy Zeke. However, unlike the rest of the party goers who are swimming, eating, drinking, and making quite merry, Zeke is glued to his laptop doing paranormal research…even when a bikini clad blonde begins to try and get his attention. Unfortunately once she succeeds, her boyfriend decides that Zeke and his laptop need to take a dip in the pool. This is when the party’s host, Mattie, literally jumps into action and rescues Zeke and his ruined laptop.
When she takes Zeke inside to get him some dry clothes, they find out they have a common interest – the paranormal. Feeling responsible, Mattie gives Zeke her own laptop computer as a replacement for his ruined one, but on one condition – he and his ghost hunting team must conduct a ghost hunt at a secluded farm house her father owns. Mattie believes that there’s something to be found if they are to investigate. But, in the end, will the presence that they seek be discovered at a great personal risk to them all?
Ghost Witch, formerly known as The Legend of Seven Toe Maggie, was directed by Joseph Lavender, who co-wrote the script with Jarrod Musselwhite, and also appeared in the movie in the role of Cameron. First off, I’m always a bit leery of horror films that boast that they are based on true events. Especially since they may only briefly touch on a local folk tale without exploring the mythos more in depth. Here we have yet another town legend involving a witch…well, at least I think that’s what it is. It’s hard to really say, since there is nothing revealed about who “Seven Toe Maggie” is or what she may have done to be the subject of any local lore. And of course, despite being rushed into action, the group of paranormal investigators in the movie go blindly into this endeavor without doing any research on the area they’re visiting, because that’s what ghost hunters do…right? I mean it’s not like there is an endless stream of info that anyone can instantly access at any time just by entering a series of words into a search tool or database. But when you’re a geeky guy like Zeke, and you’re trying to score points with your new crush, details are of little concern i guess.
The story is pretty unremarkable, as it borrows from other tales of “damn fool kids” who will “never learn”. Granted there are a myriad of horror movies that lean on familiar formulaic devices, but it’s their creative nuances that set them apart. Unfortunately there isn’t anything new and scary or exciting to make this one stand out above the rest. The story also creeps along at a slow pace. It could have been a slow burn if anyone had bothered to light even a little fire under it. Even when things begin to “pick up” towards the end, the events unfold with no true sense of peril or urgency. Of course that may have to do with the fact that some characters didn’t give any reason to care about their fate.
The acting is a mixed bag of flat, cheesy, cliche and melodramatic performances. Chase Steven Anderson, as Zeke and Mandi Christine Kerr, as Mattie are likeable characters, that viewers can garner at least a modicum of concern for. Anderson even kind of resembles, to me at least, a grown up version of Gaten Matarazzo. And of course Kerr delivers that charming, intelligent and attractive girl next-door type. You know, the one that somehow lives next-door to nobody any of us seem to know. The rest of the cast portray the kind of “plug and play” character types we’ve come to expect from the genre. They are the disposable monster/ghost/killer/demon/etc… fodder that could easily be dropped into pretty much any similar horror film. Of course there’s always the stereotypical non-believer law enforcement element that scoffs at______ <<< (insert your subject of local lore here). They even have a”doom sayer” named Jenkins, who is played by Pete Ganas. And much like Ralph in Friday the 13th, tries to warn them and simultaneously chase them off. Of course, as one would expect, his cautionary claim that they are on cursed land falls on deaf ears.
Overall, the movie looked somewhat decent. Some shots could have been framed better, and some could have been opened up a bit as to not be so tight in on the subject. Sometimes open space can be a horror directors best friend, when utilized properly. There were some typical genre sight gags used, that were more humdrum than shocking or scary. And for the sake of continuity, it might have been a good idea during Mattie’s flashback scene, to when she first saw the secluded old house they’re investigating, that there not clearly be neighboring houses and a street in the background.
Now this may seem to be nitpicking, but some of the sound effects actually grated on my nerves a bit. Like the splashing in the pool at the beginning of the film, or the creaking door sounds that were used, or the sound of a shotgun slide being pumped when the shotgun in question is clearly a break action double barrel. The creaks and splashes just sounded too clean as if they were pulled from a sound effects bank, and the shotgun sound just bothered me because I have shot both types of shotguns and the sound effect employed MADE NO SENSE.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that Ghost Witch really didn’t do it for me. One big reason is that we don’t find out much, if anything, ABOUT THE FUCKING WITCH. There was plenty of time to develop a story that not only gave some background on “Seven Toe Maggie” and still show the present day investigation being conducted for Mattie, by Zeke and his crew. If you’re a filmmaker, telling a horror story based on an urban legend or folk-tale, including the mythology and folklore about said legend is incredibly significant. Of course that’s likely why The Legend of Seven Toe Maggie is no longer the movie’s title. In the end, Maggie may have seven toes, but I’m only giving Ghost Witch 5 / 10.
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