Film - Two Witches

With the film available now on ARROW and coming to Blu-ray on 17th, did Two Witches cast their spell on Ren Zelen... 

Director: Pierre Tsigaridis
Writers: Kristina Klebe, Maxime Rancon, Pierre Tsigaridis
Starring: Rebekah Kennedy, Kristina Klebe, Tim Fox, Belle Adams, Ian Michaels, Dina Silva, Danielle Kennedy, Megan Johnson

Robert Eggers success with his 2015 folk horror The Witch reinvigorated interest in all things witchy. Now, Pierre Tsigaridis has added to the genre with his feature Two Witches, a far more gruesome portrayal of witch mythology than Eggers’ restrained offering.

Director/writer Tsigaridis concentrates on the nastiest aspects of the witch legend - maleficium – harmful curses directed at people, property or creatures, and demonic witchcraft - the most blasphemous and transgressive practices that witches pledged to serve the Devil were said to indulge in.

Tsigaridis' film is set across three chapters - Chapter 1: The Boogeyman, Chapter 2: Masha and Epilogue. An introductory segment gives us a taste of what the film is dealing with and is quickly followed by Chapter 1, in which a pretty young woman, Sarah (Belle Adams) is having a romantic dinner with her partner Simon (Ian Michaels) to celebrate her pregnancy.

Her meal is disturbed by the attention of a sour-faced and unkempt old woman (Marina Parodi) at a nearby table, who stares at her fixedly and malevolently, making her feel uncomfortable.

In the following days Sarah grows sicker and more anxious and is plagued by nightmarish dreams and visions. She becomes convinced that the repugnant old woman has maliciously given her “the evil eye”. Her partner Simon insists on a more rational explanation for Sarah’s sickness and paranoia. He puts her unease down to ‘hormones’ and the stress of imminent motherhood.

Simon is keen to visit his old friend Dustin (Tim Fox) an enthusiast of all things ghoulish, who happens to have a gothic girlfriend Melissa (Dina Silva) who claims to be a psychic healer.

Hearing about Sarah’s concerns Melissa jumps on the chance to exorcise the ‘negative energy’ surrounding her and suggests using a Ouija board to contact whatever is causing Sarah to experience her malaise. Needless to say, this turns out to be a very bad idea.

The second chapter, ‘Masha’, shows grad student Rachel’s (Kristina Klebe), difficulties with her very weird and waifish roommate Masha (Rebekah Kennedy). Masha is by turns, flattering, obsequious, needy, manipulative and dissembling.

Rachel might suspect trouble is on the horizon when Masha confesses that her dying grandmother was notoriously promiscuous and a known witch, and claims that it is her destiny to inherit her grandmother’s dark powers as soon as she dies.

Rachel is unnerved but sceptical, but their relationship becomes increasingly strained as Rachel discovers that Masha has been repeating a story she told her in confidence and seems to have an unhealthy interest in Rachel’s own devoted boyfriend. Matters take a turn for the worse when Rachel finally realises Masha’s depravity and asks her to leave.

Director Tsigaridis manages to pack the movie's 95-minute runtime with some incredibly effective scares. He has chosen his cast carefully as they are capable of creating repulsion and fear by an array of very ghastly facial expressions alone! Aside from that there are some tried and true horror effects and heavily gore-laden scenes.

Two Witches often feels rather like a homage to the classical era of 70s euro-horror. There is obvious acknowledgement of Dario Argento's work, particularly Suspiria in its lurid colours, flashing lights, and disorientating camera angles, as well as its subject matter. There are also nods to Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness with some surreal and unnerving dream sequences.

However, the narrative isn’t as cohesive as it could be and there are occasions when the creepiness of shadowy figures or the malevolence of dark forces is undercut by bursts of loud music telegraphing the shocks and highlighting things that would be more effectively left obscure.

Amongst the performances Rebekah Kennedy is nastily mischievous as Masha, the titular character of Chapter 2. She leans into the retro feel in a performance which is malevolent, unhinged and terrifyingly, impishly gleeful.

As Halloween draws near and the minds of people turn to all things spooky and horrific, and if repulsive, malevolent ‘witchyness’ is your thing, horror fans could do worse than give Tsigaridis’s Two Witches a look. It ticks the boxes for scary characters and gore, with a bit of 70’s horror melodrama thrown in for good measure. If the Epilogue is anything to go by, this may only be the first instalment from Tsigaridis and his team.

Two Witches is available on ARROW from 1st October and released on Blu-ray 17th October

Review Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2022 All rights reserved.

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