Witches and magic are possibly one of the most versatile areas of horror. There have been attempts over the years to turn the more monstrous horror creatures into the good guys, with nice vampires and kindly werewolves, but more often than not, when people try this you’ll get complaints that it doesn’t work, or that it’s ‘ruining’ the monsters.
But witches never really get that. There are stories of witches as monstrous baby eaters, but also as kind, heroic figures. And people seem to accept witches anywhere on this sliding scale of good and evil. Perhaps it’s because so many innocent people have been murdered for witchcraft over history that people become more sympathetic to witches. But Two Witches, the debut movie from director Pierre Tsigaridis, never once seems to want you to feel anything but hate and fear when it comes to the antagonists for this movie.
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Two Witches is split into two mildly connected parts that build up towards one larger story. The first chapter, titled ‘The Boogeywoman’, follow a young couple out to dinner. Sarah (Belle Adams) notices a strange, older woman staring at her throughout the meal. Over the next few days, as she and her partner, Simon (Ian Michaels) get ready to go visit their friends, Sarah becomes convinced that the old woman has cursed her, and is following them in order to get at the baby she’s carrying.
The second story, ‘Masha’, follows a young woman named Masha (Rebekah Kennedy), who we meet as she tries to strangle a man whilst having sex with him. After the man fights back Masha is rescued by her roommate, Rachel (Kristina Klebe). Believing that her new roommate is the victim of sexual violence, Rachel tries to help Masha, but Masha starts to tell her of her grandmother, who’s a witch that eats babies. She tells Rachel that when her grandmother dies, which could be very soon, she’ll inherit all of her powers. Over the course of this chapter Masha becomes more and more unhinged and dangerous, leading to some pretty frightening situations.
Despite seeming to be completely unconnected, there are some small connections between the two stories, but not enough to really make it feel like one cohesive and sensible whole. There are a number of times where it feels like two separate short films with similar themes have been tacked together to make a full-length movie. It doesn’t help that the stories in both segments don’t quite make sense. Things happen in the story, yet there’s not much explanation for them, especially in the second half of the film. We’re often left to go ‘well I guess that happened because Masha is mad and evil’.
The disjointed nature of the film really makes it hard to enjoy, and the fact that it ends without a conclusion is perhaps the most disappointing part. The story doesn’t get finished here, and it’s clearly being set up for another film. This becomes even more apparent in the extras, when director Pierre Tsigaridis describes the movie as a ‘prequel’. But this is the first movie Tsigaridis has made, so I’m not sure what it’s being a prequel to, unless he means that this is the first part of a story that’s going to need a second film, but that isn’t what a prequel is. That’s just the first film in a series.
And I think this is one of the biggest problems with Two Witches: it feels as though the people making it aren’t interested in this story, and are looking at it as what they need to tell in order to make the more exciting second part. It feels half thought out, with the attitude of ‘the next film will explain it’ as the reason for everything odd that happens here. And whilst that might work in keeping some people watching, it will also turn away folks who leave this movie wondering what the point of it even was.
The Blu-ray from Arrow Video comes with several extras, including two audio commentaries, one by director Pierre Tsigaridis, the other with producer Maxime Rancon. Both of them talk about the making of the movie, and the anecdotes and information they come out with are so similar I was left wondering why they weren’t doing the commentary together. As it is, you’ll end up sitting through similar stuff if you decide to watch both of them, and may begin to find the process a bit tiring. The other extras include some behind the scenes shorts that feel tacked on more than anything else, and outside of the commentaries it does feel very light on extra features due to the short run times.
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Overall, I found it quite difficult to enjoy Two Witches. There are some scary moments and some clever scares in the film, but the story and characters fail to connect on any level. If you think this film might interest you, it’s probably worth waiting until the creators make whatever is supposed to come next in this tale and watch them both together, as there’s not a huge amount here on its own.
Two Witches is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.