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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Two Witches - Two Witches( Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]

Two Witches is a 2021 American production that tries to recapture the creepy-to-unnerving spirit of ’60s/ 70’s supernatural euro horror, from the likes of Dario Argento & Mario Bava. With touches of dark surrealism, fantasy/ non-sensical moments, and gore which all rather nods towards another ’70s/ 80’s euro director Lucio Fulci. It’s a film that certainly feels retro tooled, though is seemingly set (largely) in the present. With the whole thing coming off as a creepy & uneasy ride, dotted with moments of brutal violence- it's a largely compelling if at points rather natively messy film. Here from Arrow Video, both in the UK and stateside, is a recent Blu-Ray release of the film. And as we’ve come to expect from Arrow Video, we get great extras on the disc.

Two Witches is the first feature-length from Paris-born and based Pierre Tsigaridis, who also co-wrote the film with Kristina Klebe & Maxime Rancon. The picture runs just over the one-hour and thirty-eight-minute mark, and there is no doubt there are some truly creepy & unnerving moments throughout. Though there are a few issues here, like decidedly mixed acting, audio balance issues, and a rather muddled at times haphazard structure.

The film features two stories of witches and modern-day witchcraft, which at points start to blend and blur together. The first tale focuses on an expecting twenty-something mother Sarah (Belle Adams). One night while out with her smug, often belittling and bearded boyfriend/ father of her baby Simon (Ian Michaels) she notices an older woman staring at her. After a time, she informs Simon, and the woman seemingly disappears reappearing outside the restaurant they are in.  As we move on Sarah keeps seeing the woman- sometimes while out and about, and sometimes in her home. 

The pair decide to spend a night away in the countryside with their friends Dustin (Tim Fox) who went to school with Simon, and Melissa (Dina Silva) his largely lady partner who runs a small business selling bad luck/curse-breaking candles.  As the four chat, Sarah opens up about her witch staking- both  Simon and Dustin mock her, through Melissia is generally concerned- with her pulling out an Ouija board to try and help Sarah- and from here things really start to go askew, with creepy sleepwalking, a bathroom breakdown, shots of creepy tripped out imagery, and moments of gut slashing to finger severing gore.

The next story focuses on Masha (Rebekah Kennedy) who we first meet making passionate and sweaty sex with her date. She asks if she can try something different- and seemingly he suddenly starts getting pain in his penis, and she starts strangling her lover, he punches her- then her roommate Rachel (Kristina Klebe) rushes in. This pulls the before-distant apartment mates together- and Rachel reveals a few highly personal facts about herself. The next day the frankly strange and unnerving Masha visits Rachel's work- making out the facts Rachel had told her related to her…understandable she is livid and tells Masha to be out of the apartment before she comes back from visiting her mother for the Christmas holidays. From here the film gets slow-but-surely more creepily unhinged- with brutal stabbings and beatings. And at a point, the two stories/characters start to meet and blend in a decidedly clunky manner.

The acting here is decidedly mixed- in the first story Adams shifts between being fairly believable to rather flat & overacting. Michaels largely works well as the often belittling and cynical Simon, though he’s a little out of his depth with the more intense scenes. In the second story, Kennedy is really very good as the clearly unhinged at times downright deranged Masha. Klebe as her roommate is a little more mixed/ less convincing. Though on the supporting side of the second story Danielle Kennedy as Rachel’s mother Mary is most effective. So rather a mixed bag, but thankfully nothing goes too bad, to totally through off the film's effect. Another rather key issue here is the sound balance- with the dialogue coming across as muffled, and sudden jarring loud use of music. This issue is largely most felt in the first quarter or so, but there are still moments of sound unbalance-ment towards the end of the film.

The structure of the whole film/story is often somewhat little confused & muddled- yes, many of Fulci's supernatural-focused films often felt nonsensical/ abstract- but there was always a semblance of story flow. With Two Witches it sometimes feels like they were making it up as they went along, then tried to throw it all together with story elements bent and stretched to meet, then darkly and dartingly surreal imagery seemingly thrown into both unbalance & cover up some of the structural cracks.
The elements of unease and terror are very well realized, and move well between creepy builds, truly chilling moments, and sudden jarring fear. With the elements of brutal gore/ horror, all largely work well in the mix. In conclusion, I’d say Two Witches is certainly a most promising debut film- with a few issues/ problems, but ultimately the good/ unsettling outweighs the less-than-stellar elements.

 

Moving onto this Blu-Ray release- and as we’ve come to expect from the folks at Arrow Video, we get a  good selection of extras. First off, we get two commentary tracks- one with director/ co-writer Pierre Tsigaridis, and the second with producer Maxime Rancon. I played the first of these, and for the most part, it’s a worthy/ interesting director's com. He starts off by discussing the pre-credits scene, and how he wanted to create the feeling of looking for baby eyes at the film's two witches. He talks about the creation of the spell scene, and the elements used including dead baby birds he found on a walk. He talks about shot types/ cutting choices, and the way he uses horror tropes in the film. He chats about how he wanted to put in subtle elements of humour in the scenes when we’re getting to know the characters. Later on, he talks about improvising with the actors, trying to get just the tone/ facial expression. He discusses the gore effect set-ups, and how he wanted the film to be a balance of horror atmospherics and intense gore. He talks about the production design later on in the film, which was influenced by Suspiria.
Otherwise, we get the following extras: Behind the Movie, a two-part behind-the-scenes featurette (jointly running around the 15.00 mark). Interview with actor and associate producer Dina Silva (15.54). The Boogeywoman, an interview with actor Marina Parodi (7.47). The Original Score, an interview with composer Gioacchino Marincola (10.44). The Piano Score, director Pierre Tsigaridis talks about the inspiration behind the piano score the film (10.50). Effects test footage (1.33). Grimmfest 2021 Q&A with Pierre Tsigaridis and Maxime Rancon (30.15). Image gallery with the film's score.

 

In finishing Two Witches is certainly a very promising debut film from Pierre Tsigaridis- and if you enjoy where creepy/ nervy atmospherics and gore meet, then I think you’ll find horror joy with the film. And as always, another classy presented/curated release of a new genre film from Arrow Video.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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