DOCUMENTING THE WITCH PATH ** Sweden 2017 Dir: Carl Sundstrom. 65 mins
Writer-director Carl Sundstrom also plays a version of himself in this pseudo-documentary / found footage-inspired horror film. He’s a film student making a feature documentary around the infamous Swedish witch trial / drowning site “Witch Lake” with his two pals (Nathaniel P Erlandsson, Robin Franzen – both also using their real names). It’s now a nature reserve, though the trio of amateur filmmakers make the unsettling early discovery that the “official” Witch Lake is actually now closed and not visible on search engines. The authorities are clearly hiding something, guided tours have stopped and an anonymous former guide calls them to warn about going to the lake, muttering ominously about missing persons. “What about those freaking stones? It’s like something out of a horror movie!”
It’s been 20 years since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT but it is still a prominent influence on no-budget genre films with sparse fresh ideas of their own. This one has an interesting and compellingly creepy backdrop as the filmmakers walk the same path as condemned women marching to their doom centuries earlier. Almost everything else, however, is numbingly familiar, from the telegraphed cell phone reception issues to the arguments about maps. Sundstrom tries to compensate for the repetition with overdone “meta” dialogue (“This is BLAIR WITCH for real!”) and a twist that essentially transforms the film into a rip off of the making of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.
Review by Steven West