Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Love Witch (15)

It's easy to forget, but there's a good chance that way back when you actually really enjoyed the Hammer House Of Horror movies.

Or maybe you were a fan of Russ Meyer's gawdy, OTT offerings, where the visual appeal of the female stars was very much part of the appeal.

If the answer to either of these is 'yes', then The Love Witch is just the film for you. Or could be. Possibly.

Staring Samantha Robinson as the witch Elaine, the story is - at its simplest - about Elaine's search for love.

Using witchcraft. Obviously.

Only things don't go to plan. Obviously.

It's all pretty much as you'd expect - shock, gore, burials, impromptu nudity and Victorian tea rooms.

And it looks fantastic. Lush vibrant colourings just like as what we watched way back when we was all young n that.


And you can kind of live with the clash of styles. The clothes are out of the 1970s, yet people rock up in modern BMWs.

It takes a bit of getting used to, and it's one of those things you either ignore or let niggle.

And given the continuity issues and sexual politics, I'd let that one go if I were you.

Essentially, this film is a lot of fun - and looks amazing - it just doesn't pay to think about the messages or where it has come from.

Or what's going on with that tea room.

As mentioned at the top, visually this film owes everything to key 60s/70s genres - and with that in mind you can kind of forgive Elaine's message that a woman should do all she can to please her man.

While this is challenged by some of the other characters, it is what essentially drives the main character - casting spells to ensure a man falls in love with her.

No man, no happy, see?

And like I said, in the context of the decades of yore such thinking can be understood and excused.


Writer/director Anna Biller has gone on record saying she never saw the exploitation films of Meyer.

So if this isn't either an homage or a pastiche, what is it?

Is Biller actually suggesting that doing all you can to please a man is the way forward? Is she advocating using sex to find and keep love?

Because if so that's quite worrying in 2017 as we find ourselves having to fight for equality yet again.

Then there's the quality of the film.

Let's make no bones about this - the dialogue is stilted, the acting is marginally wooden, the editing is harsh, it looks like it was shot for peanuts using one camera and then edited in a hurry.

Now, again, if this was done in deference to the Hammer films of our youth - woohoo! Nail firmly driven through corpse.

But if not?

Then this is the film Biller actually wanted to make. She wanted it to look slightly awkward and badly written.

And she wanted you to notice the candles. And to ask how one woman filled the jar that bloody full.

None of those things are good thoughts to be having when you just want to enjoy a camp, OTT horror/exploitation feast.

I'd honestly have been much happier if I hadn't read Biller's comments. The film would actually make more sense.

As it is, you're left with more questions than answers and a hankering to go watch a proper Hammer film.

The Love Witch could be a lot of fun, and if you can go in knowing nothing about it (something i'm aware we've not helped with here) and just give yourself over to it you'll have a blast.

If, however, you start to think about it too much you'll wish you hadn't...

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