• Review: Mark of the Witch (2014)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sat Apr 30 10:19:20 2016
    MARK OF THE WITCH (2014)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    ** (out of ****)

    Jason Bognacki's "Mark of the Witch" would have worked beautifully as a
    silent movie. But he added sound and dialogue and music in an attempt to
    tell some semblance of a story. And by expanding his treatment for his
    short film "Another" to feature length he ruined everything.
    Ruined is a bit strong; *diluted* perhaps, because there's a lot of
    lovely imagery to behold here. Cowled, unfocused figures move on the periphery; our heroine, Jordyn (Paulie Rojas), paces deliberately in slo-mo
    or curls, fetal-like, on a bed, shot from above; an escalator purrs with perfect symmetry--Bognacki's unorthodox cutting, creative framing, and otherworldly visioning provide a strong sense of style.
    Not to be confused with Tom Moore's cheesy 1970 film of the same name (although both films share some similarities, especially in the plot department--a young girl thinks she's possessed by a malevolent sorceress), Bognacki's "'Witch" is evocatively and creatively shot. But when anyone
    opens his or her mouth, especially the leading lady, it's dumb-down time.
    Bognacki specifically thanks *giallo* auteur Dario Argento (the
    colorful "'Bird with the Crystal Plumage," "Four Flies on Grey Velvet,"
    "Deep Red," etc.) in his closing credits, and "Mark of the Witch" pays
    homage to the veteran Italian filmmaker's sense of surreal style
    throughout. It clearly references the witch-themed "Suspiria" (which, by contrast, worked because it was *loud*; watch for a redo next year with
    Tilda Swinton and "Fifty Shades of Grey"'s Dakota Johnson!). The women in "Mark of the Witch" are appropriately creepsville, including Nancy Wolfe as Jordyn's deranged Aunt Ruth, who loses it during her niece's 18th birthday party, causing Jordyn to experience a series of trippy hallucinations, and Maria Olsen, solid as the demonic mother figure replete with bloody dental work.
    "Mark of the Witch" is a rare case where its director should have
    bypassed substance altogether and gone all style.

    David N. Butterworth

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