THE LOVE WITCH (2016)
Starring Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Laura Waddell, Gian Keys, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Randy Evans, Clive Ashborn, Lily Holleman, Jennifer Couch, Steven Wozniak, Giselle Damier, Elle Evans, Fair Micaela Griffin, Dani Lennon, Gina Venditti, Frank Farmer, Kyle Derek, Alisha Honoré and April Showers.
Screenplay by Anna Biller.
Directed by Anna Biller.
Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories. 120 minutes. Not Rated.
The Love Witch brings up an interesting conundrum for a film critic. If a movie is purposely being over-the-top and cheesy as a post-modern wink at past genre films, does that excuse the fact that the film itself is really over-the-top and cheesy?
The Love Witch is a pretty fascinating technical exercise. Despite taking place in an odd mishmash of the present day and the 1960s, it legitimately feels like a long-lost exploitation horror film. The fashions are retro, the acting is mannered and robotic, the color palette is throbbing with vivid psychedelic colors, the direction is purposefully slow-moving and old-fashioned, the nudity is gratuitous, and the soundtrack is swinging.
It’s an impressive accomplishment. But is it really necessary? More to the point, who has really been waiting to see this?
I suppose that some big fans of old giallo films will be intrigued by The Love Witch’s fetishistic devotion to the genre. The rest of us will be impressed by the craft for a while, but eventually wonder where the storyline went.
The drop-dead gorgeous Samantha Robinson plays the lead character Elaine, a va-va-va-voom witch with cat-eye makeup and go-go boots who moves into a charming small town in California in search of true love, but instead she leaves behind a string of angry, broken or dead men. (Well, the most that the characters in The Love Witch can whip up is a mannered, repressed approximation of anger.)
She is the type of woman who makes sure that her dress matches her car and her luggage. She has all the smoldering feminist passion of a Stepford wife. Elaine makes herself up to be the fantasy ideal for men. She says that she just wants to please them, but when they inevitably show themselves to be weak and disappoint her, she drops them flat – or makes an example of them.
The Love Witch is trying to say something profound and post-modern about the war of the sexes and the state of feminism. It’s only partially successful. By trying to be all things to all men, Elaine inadvertently destroys them and even in a more subtle way she also destroys herself.
It’s scintillating in theory. However, by the time we’re stuck out in the woods with some odd renaissance faire group performing an ode to true love, the audience is scratching its head thinking “What the fuck?”
Still, the movie looks stunning. The cinematography, costuming and sets are all top notch, a truly inspired tribute to 1960s b-movie horrors.
I just wish the movie was a little easier to sit through. Two hours crawl by at a snail’s pace and by the time the film hits its not exactly surprising climax, only the most devoted genre die-hard will still really care.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 25, 2016.