TADFF 2019 – Film Review: WITCHES IN THE WOODS (2019)

WITCHES IN THE WOODS **** Canada 2019 Dir: Jordan Barker. 90 mins

You know how it goes. A group of kids head into the woods, bad things happen, everyone ends up dead. WITCHES IN THE WOODS borrows this familiar concept, but uses it to tell us a very different story.

Jill (Hannah Kasulka) and her football-playing boyfriend Matty (Alexander De Jordy) are heading up north to spend the weekend snowboarding with their friends, including Alison (Sasha Clements) and Philip (Corbin Bleu). But as the group dynamic begins to unravel, we learn Jill and Philip are having an affair, and Alison is using the weekend to escape the traumatic aftermath of a sexual assault.

They use a service road as a shortcut and end up stranded in a region known for its history of witch hunts. And it’s cold—the kind of cold that makes it hard to walk—and while tension rises between Jill, Matty, and Philip, Ali descends further and further into darkness.

This is what establishes the film’s simmering slow burn. This isn’t your typical scary movie about the supernatural, but one that looks at human fear, paranoia, and the dangerous consequences of letting an idea turn into mass hysteria. Peppered with practical gore effects and tongue-swallowing scares, WITCHES IN THE WOODS is a claustrophobic study of the horrors of the human condition.

Review by Julia Lynch

 

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