WITCH-HUNT (2017)


USA Film Festival 2017

 Greetings again from the darkness. There may not be a mass-market audience for ultra low-budget supernatural horror-thriller-comedies, but that doesn’t stop writer/director Philip Schaeffer and his cast of seven actresses from delivering a rollicking good time.

Best viewed late at night and preferably with a group of friends smart enough to enjoy a bit of satire, and not so pseudo-intellectual as to be unable to cut loose and possibly even create a new drinking game (not that such uncultured and unruly behavior would be encouraged). In fact, just keeping up with one of the character’s propensity to shift from red to white wine and back again requires somewhat of a clear head and attention span.

Five ladies gather in clock-filled home to play a board game that could be named “Who is the Witch?” The clocks don’t really matter, but do make for interesting set pieces and might also play into someone’s unconventional drinking game. The birthday girl (Robyn Purcay) who receives the game as a gift is very excited to play, while the emotions of the others range from ‘OK, I’ll play along’ to utter disdain (from the striking Abby Eiland).

The movie is divided into the different rounds played during the game … with each of the five participants getting special attention during a particular round. Additionally, the story has an external structure thanks to a late night strategy session at a book publishing firm. Of course, the story doesn’t really matter. What matters is the periodic creepiness and abundance of humor stemming from the conversations of wine-guzzling, long-time friends who share a clouded and traumatic childhood memory.

Other than the aforementioned Ms. Eiland and Ms. Purcay, the other actresses involved here are Melina Chadbourne, Erin Curtis, Lillian Olive, Suzanne Blunk and Trisha Miller. Each brings their own style to the fun, and special mention goes to cinematographer Olivia Kuan, whose camera work provides the necessary claustrophobia and unease necessary to keep viewers guessing.

 

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