Spoiler-Free Film Review: “Witch” 

April 29, 2024

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 josephperry@gmail.com. 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.

In Witch (U.K, 2024), codirectors Craig Hinde and Marc Zammit — who cowrote the screenplay with David Baboulene — have crafted a feature that combines gothic horror and folk horror with a science fiction element.

In a small English town in 1575, young wife and mother Twyla (Sarah Alexandra Marks – KILL KANE, HELP) is falsely accused of witchcraft and will be put to death if found guilty. The young woman accusing her is Johanna (Mims Burton), who herself is on trial for murdering her parents — she even walked around the town holding both of their severed heads. 

Twyla’s blacksmith husband William (Ryan Spong) does everything he can to save her, even accepting the help of mysterious stranger Thomas (Russell Shaw). The main villains are the ruthless Judge Hopkins (Daniel Jordan), who seemingly never met a person he couldn’t accuse of something, and the local marshall (Fabrizio Santino), who follows the judge’s orders, sometimes at the threat of death.

The performances from that main cast, along with the sizable supporting cast, are all highly impressive, with Marks and Spong making for a pair of protagonists for whom it is easy to get invested in. The local law enforcers are more broadly written, but well portrayed.

Hinde and Zammit show a definite flair for historical horror, and pace Witch quite well. Cinematographer Richard Oakes wonderfully captures the goings-on as well as the beautiful set design and Jenny Anderson’s splendid costume design.

One of the main problems I had with Witch is a common occurrence in many films, that being a cold open that is followed by a scene that viewers are told took place before the cold open. We know to some extent where things are headed, taking, for me, some of the suspense out of the proceedings. 

Also, the science fiction element, which I will not specifically call out here to avoid spoilers, simply didn’t work for me. It’s an admirable attempt on the part of Hinde, Zammit, and Baboulene to try something different with a period-piece horror film, though, and other viewers might well enjoy this aspect.

Overall, Witch is a great-looking, well-acted film with which I had a few plot-related issues. Aficionados of period-piece occult horror should find the film well worth a watch.

Witch, from 101 Films, is available on digital from April 30th, 2024.



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