Happy October, witches!!!!! Time for stories of ghosts, ghouls, creepy crawlies, and scary women who have made pacts with the devil. To celebrate, Arrow Films is releasing the first feature from writer-director Pierre Tsigaridis - Two Witches.
The film is a pair of loosely connected stories - sort of a mini-anthology. The connecting tissue is the passing of dark powers from one aging woman to her young granddaughter. The older woman governs the events of the first story, while the younger witch takes the mantle and starts wreaking havoc in the second.
The film opens with a young couple trying to enjoy a night out. Sarah (Belle Adams) has recently discovered that she is pregnant. Her partner Simon (Ian Michaels), though enthused, is not the most sensitive person in the world, and honestly, is kind of more than any pregnant woman should have to deal with. Not long into the meal, Sarah notices an old woman with penetrating eyes staring at her from across the dark restaurant. She tries to ignore it and just focus on her meal, but the woman continues staring in the most unsettling way.
Over the next few days, Sarah feels increasingly sick and anxious. She can’t get the picture of the old woman out of her mind and becomes convinced that the hag has cursed her with some sort of “evil eye.” Simon brushes it all off as effects of the pregnancy. The pair soon take a drive to visit Simon’s best friend Dustin (Tim Fox) and his new agey/witchy wife Melissa (Dina Sliva). When Melissa hears about what Sarah has been experiencing, she insists that a session with a Ouija board is the best way to resolve the unwanted feelings.
I’ve watched a lot of horror moves throughout my life, and I’m here to tell you that a Ouija board never solves anything. It starts problems. It doesn’t fix them. But nobody asked me, so the Ouija board session begins and surprise! Things go from bad to worse and the evening turns into a vicious nightmare for the entire group.
The second story focuses on grad student Rachel (Kristina Klebe) and her new roommate Masha (Rebekah Kennedy). Masha is a bit awkward and strange; she comes across as nervous in every interaction, doesn’t quite know what to say and every conversation with her is a bit stilted. The real cause for concern comes when she has a bit of a violent interaction with a random guy she brings one home one evening. Rachel hears the commotion and intervenes, throwing the guy out. Only it’s not entirely clear just who was the aggressor in the situation.
As time goes on, Masha becomes more intrusive into Rachel’s life, even going so far as to co-opt stories and moments from Rachel’s past and make them her own. This still lies in the area of “Normal Crazy Roommate” stuff, but eventually Masha starts talking about how her dying grandmother is a witch, and how she is going to inherit all of her grandmother’s powers at the moment of her death. The steps that Masha will take as a regular human are nothing compared to the places she will go once she is super witch powered.
Though rooted in some interesting ideas, the film is a pretty mixed bag in terms of quality. There are some clever shots and storytelling mechanisms, but it struggles to come together as a cohesive unit. The characters in the first segment are frustratingly flat. The story, particularly in the first part, is predictable and the humor is abrasive. The second segment fares better, in part, because it is played more seriously, but largely, due to the talent of the cast. Kristina Klebe gives Rachel a lot of depth and is a great audience surrogate in response to Masha’s increasingly weird behavior. And Rebekah Kennedy freaking slays as Masha. She really brings her to life, selling both the awkward weirdness and the threatening sides to her personality.
Tsigaridis creates a great mood and gets some interesting shots off. Two Witches is a solid effort that just doesn’t pay off in the way you hope it will. I’d be interested to see what he can do with a higher budget and a more polished script. All in all, you can do a lot worse, but it’s not likely going to be a top watch this Spooky Season.
Movie Score: 2.5/5