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Coven Review

I think it’s safe to say that witches have undergone the biggest transformation within the horror genre. Once depicted as ugly, wart-encrusted hags, witches now tend to be portrayed as young, sultry sorceresses. Gone are the pointy hats and broomsticks, with most portrayals focusing primarily on spells, casting and divination. Margaret Malandruccolo‘s Coven is no exception.

Synopsis

Five undergrad witches come together in order to perform a ritual to invoke the ancient powers of the witch Ashura. The leader of the coven gets carried away and accidentally kills one of the witches during the ritual. She needs the strength of a complete coven to invoke Ashura’s powers and sends them out to find a final witch. As she absorbs power, the surviving girls plot to take her down. But the possessed witch unleashes hell on campus with only one young witch left to stop her.

Cited as ‘The Craft meets Suspiria’, Coven certainly shows its influences throughout the movie. However, whilst there are a number of similarities, Malandruccolo adds her own unique take on the genre with spellbinding results. Writer Lizze Gordon also plays the lead role of Sophie, a novice witch trying to contact her deceased mother. Her first encounter with the coven isn’t a pleasant one (involving a magical altercation with an apparition of a snake for good measure) However, feeling that the witches are her only chance of bringing her mother back, she reluctantly agrees to help them invoke Ashura’s power.

With a great supporting cast consisting of Margot Major, Sofya Skya, Jocelyn Saenz, Jennifer Cipolla, Miranda O’Hare and Adam Horner, Coven is a really good movie. With such a low budget there’s some GREAT special effects and, unlike some indie flicks, it isn’t confined to just a few locations. My only issue was the blatant continuity error that occurs just short of the half hour mark. That, coupled with the odd audio blip here and there, is the only reminder that you’re watching an indie movie. Everything else was fantastic.

Summary

If you’re a fan of The Craft, Suspiria and other witchy movies then Coven is definitely one to check out. It’s due to be released on digital and DVD on July 14. Until then, here’s the trailer to enchant you.

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The Psychics movie review

The Psychics movie review

One of the great things about Horror is the amount of sub-genres. Slasher, Monster, Paranormal; there really is something for everyone. One sub-genre that tends to divide opinion is ‘Found Footage’. While some favour the rustic, authentic perception that this style can create, others view it as a cheap, easy cop-out. Personally, I don’t mind it and I think it’s a great resource for any new filmmaker faced with budgetary constraints. Providing there’s a decent story and good acting, I’m more than happy to accommodate the shaky camera, questionable audio and inconsistent lighting that tends to come with found footage movies. Thankfully, The Psychics presented hardly any of these issues.

Synopsis

The synopsis for The Psychics states; A woman making a documentary about psychics searches for answers surrounding the disappearance of her sister. Not a lot to go off, but sounds intriguing enough. Cited as ‘the third Norwegian found footage film ever made’ the movie stars Kirsti Lovas in the lead role with support from Oddrun Valestrand and Frank Thomas Holen Andersen. As you may have guessed by now the movie is subtitled. So, yes, you’ll be reading a fair bit (unless you speak Norwegian of course!) Yet, this doesn’t take away from it being quite an intriguing film.

The Psychics movie review

Lovas’ convincing portrayal of main character Camilla was one of the movie’s biggest strengths. This, coupled with the intriguing storyline and effective cinematography throughout the majority of the movie gives it a thumbs up from me. The shaky camera during the first part was a bit off-putting, but I was pleased to see this improve greatly as the story progressed. Writer/Director Tomas Sem Løkke-Sørensen has done a great job in merging crime/mystery with a supernatural twist. He has created a gripping storyline that increases in pace as the movie progresses before reaching a satisfying climax.

The Psychics movie review

In Summary, the movie is pretty good considering the total lack of budget. With a great cast, interesting storyline and a nice mockumentary approach, The Psychics is great showcase of Løkke-Sørensen’s filmmaking abilities. The movie has had a successful festival run and is now available to purchase on DVD and rent from Amazon

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The Candy Witch

There’s something about urban legends that tends to resonate with the masses. Whether this be the mystery, intrigue or the peril they usually portray, many of these chilling tales of folklore have been around for generations. Some have regional variations, whilst others are a mosaic of legends; bits and pieces of different stories brought together to show a terrifying new image. The Candy Witch seems to fall into this category.

With a tagline of ‘Sweet dreams… forever!’ The synopsis states;

Two ghost hunters are called upon by a distressed family who claim they are being tormented by an evil spirit known in their local town as The Candy Witch. But as the mystery of her curse is uncovered, surprising and sinister turns are discovered around The Candy Witch’s identity. Their hardest case yet, can they solve this evil curse before more people are killed by the demonic spirit?

The Candy Witch

Now before we go into the review let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, there are a number of similarities with Candyman, the biggest being the Candy Witch’s hook-like weapon of choice; a sharpened candy cane (ingenious right?) And also a few other themes from popular culture (turning lights on/off which conceals/reveals the spirit for example) However, as mentioned previously, some of the best urban legends are a mishmash of horror tales. Whilst The Candy Witch adopts a number of these traits, it doesn’t lose its individuality in terms of storyline, location and unique delivery.

The movie itself starts out strongly. There’s a brief introduction to the turmoil of the O’Neil family, followed by a bit of a prelude which introduces ghost hunters Reece (Jon Callaway) and Kat (Abi Casson Thompson). The prelude in particular provides us with some great visual effects which sets the standard for the rest of the movie.

Liar

In terms of acting, The Candy Witch is comprised of a stellar cast who all bring a unique aspect to the movie. Admittedly, there are a few shaky performances here and there, but overall it was very good. Whilst Callaway plays a decent part he doesn’t really dominate the screen in a lead role, but he is supported by a convincing performance from Thompson. However, the accolade for acting performance has to go to The Candy Witch herself (Kate Lush). Whilst there isn’t a great deal of speech on her part, Lush brings the character to life through expression, mannerisms and good old fashioned jump scares (helped tremendously by the amazing cinematography)

The only critique I have is the number of Americanisms adopted throughout the movie. I get that the director is trying to appeal to the US market, but it feels to have sacrificed a level of authenticity in doing so, with the majority of the movie being set in Surrey, England. If some of these were dropped (as well as the questionable American accents that popped up every now and then…) I feel the movie would sell just as good, if not better. However, saying that, I completely understand the reasoning behind the ‘Candy’ Witch as the ‘Sweet’ Witch (as most Brits would call it) doesn’t have the same effect!

The Candy Witch

Overall though The Candy Witch is a fun, compelling splatterfest filled with inventive confectionary-related kills. I thought it was a great film and a great premise for an antagonist. I feel if there was extra work done to give the Candy Witch more of an initial, impactive scare, it could easily pave the way for a new horror icon.

From writer-director Rebecca J.Matthews (Pet Graveyard), and starring Kate Lush, Abi Casson Thompson, Heather Jackson and Richard D Myers, The Candy Witch serves up sweet death June 9 on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment. Check out the trailer below!

You can check out the IMDB link here

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