IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS OF WITCH HUNT!
In modern day America, witches are real and they are being hunted down by an organization that sees them as a threat to mankind. Close to the Mexican border, a single mother raises her twin sons and her teenage daughter, while providing shelter to runaway witches that are waiting for their ride to cross over to Mexico to safety. Claire is a normal teenager that needs to surpass her prejudicial values in order to protect her mother’s new refugees, two young witches that lost their mother to the purge. Soon enough, Claire begins to have strange nightmares, where a maleficent presence lurks inside the walls of the house, and makes her have visions of dead witches trying to connect with her. What does this mean? Claire must find out soon, before a ruthless hunter destroys her home and kills her friends.
Witch Hunt is quite a surprise, beautifully written and directed by Elle Callahan. It is a tale of horror blended with a coming of age story as well as it acts as a suspenseful thriller that deals with socially relevant issues. The performances are extremelly captivating, as young Gideon Adlon shines in her role as leading heroine, and Elizabeth Mitchell finds herself a role that matches her acting skills. Witch Hunt has some interesting artistic approaches, with Callahan’s camera closely playing with spot-on angles that create a synesthetic experience where the viewer is constantly on edge, while beautiful imagery makes for a creative contribution to the main character’s rise to womanhood. Although some of the characters needed some polishing and some depth to widen the worldbuilding, Witch Hunt manages to be a sweet and endearing attempt of showing that, in a patriarchal society, women are feared for their powers and strength. The film is able to embody many different messages in its metaphorical approach to female empowerment, and that works brilliantly to provide the audience with the right dosage of entertainment and social relevance.
There are a lot of interesting little details about these questions that Witch Hunt puts at the center of its primary goal. The symbolisms provide a sense that Callahan knows exactly how, when and where to arouse our curiosity, even if sometimes these symbolisms needed a more detailed explanation so that the audience would understand how witchcraft works in this modern world. Aided by the performances throughout its runtime, Witch Hunt should be able to become a franchise and explore its mythology even better in future installments. If not, the film will be faithful to its message, but will be seen as a frail worldbuilding creation. Callahan’s notorious ability of putting powerful women at the center of the narrative and showing that womanhood is still something a male dominated society fears, makes Witch Hunt a film not to miss in the near future, even if it softly explores its fantasy roots.
Blending so many genres inside one film may be a tricky job for anyone, and even if it’s far from perfect, Witch Hunt manages to capture the eye of the viewer with an intriguing narrative, socially relevant values, some creative imagery and camera angles that provide a highly enjoyable cinematic experience. The performances are also captivating and cast a spell on us as we are involved with these powerful women trying to survive the horrors of a broken and oppressive society. While it should have given its supporting characters more material to make them more appealing to the public, Callahan’s message is clear that there is no escape in being who you are, and that we should not suppress ourselves to feel included in a society that is still driven by fear of what it claims to be different from normalcy. Witch Hunt is able to absorb some classic Salem’s Lot plot and bring it to a modern day world, where the hunt serves as a launching pad for the realization of women power and the fight for justice and equality against oppressive male-dominated regimes.
It may lack some depth in exploring its fantasy-based structure and answering some important questions about how witchcraft manifests itself through different types of young witches and why the ghosts of former murdered witches appear in Claire’s nightmares, but ultimately Witch Hunt is a thrilling, extremelly enjoyable film that will leave you wanting a franchise to know more about its twisted yet magical world.
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Title: Witch Hunt
Original Title: Witch Hunt
Director: Elle Callahan
Runtime: 97 min.
Trailer | Witch Hunt