Film Reviews: SORCERY and MY ANIMAL (Sundance Film Festival)

February 1, 2023

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.


Blending elements of dark folklore and revenge horror, Chilean-set Sorcery (Brujeria; Mexico/Germany/Chile, 2023) finds 13-year-old indigenous girl Rosa Rain (Valentina Véliz Caileo) seeking justice after her father is savagely killed when the head of the German colonist family for which she has been working has his dogs attack him. Bonding with elderly Mateo Parancán (Daniel Antivilo), who is accused of being the leader of a group of local sorcerers, Rosa seeks to learn the mystical secrets of the members. When the two young sons of the German family go missing — having possibly been either killed or turned into dogs — Rosa, Mateo, and the group members find themselves accused of murder. Director Christopher Murray, who cowrote the screenplay with Pablo Paredes, bases the film on actual historical events from the late 19th century. He addresses political and cultural elements in this atmospheric chiller, which is a slow burner that offers plenty of mystery and symbolism — such as dead sheep with braids of hair around their necks, circles of birds, and arcane knowledge — fine cinematography by Maria Secco, and gripping performances. The pacing feels a bit languid at times, but overall Sorcery is a unique work that is well worth seeking out.   



My Animal

Films about young women taking on lycanthropic powers are plentiful, including Ginger Snaps (2000) and its sequels, and I Am Lisa (2020). Director Jacqueline Castel’s entry into the subgenre is My Animal (Canada. 2023), a solid effort in which the main character’s being a werewolf is not the only secret she is hiding from others. Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) is growing up in a small Canadian town in the 1980s, working part-time at the ice rink, hoping to make the local all-male hockey team, an idea at which the coach scoffs because she is a girl. Her family must chain her to her bed and lock her up on full-moon nights to prevent tragedy. When Jonny (Amandla Stenberg) starts training at the rink, Heather becomes enamored and as their relationship grows, the two test the waters of their sexual desires, and Heather can no longer keep her secrets hidden. My Animal balances its coming of age, coming out, and horror elements well. Castel, working from Jae Matthews’ multilayered screenplay, helms the film wonderfully, doing an adept job at focusing on the personal, family, and relationship dramas that torment Heather and those around her, and presenting the werewolf elements in dreamlike manners. Menuez and Stenberg have fine chemistry together as they head up a solid cast that includes an outstanding turn from Stephen McHattie as Heather’s tortured but loving father.

Sorcery and My Animal screened as part of Sundance Film Festival, which took place in-person and online from January 19–29, 2023. 


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