Director: Anna Biller
Running Time: 2 hours, 0 minutes
A witch uses her magic to lure men into falling in love with her, which usually leads to a tragic end.
"The Love Witch" is written and directed by Anna Biller, who has really found a niche with movies that look like modern homages to late 60's/early 70's exploitation films. Her previous film "Viva" was reminiscent of early 70's sexploitation, and this film is very similar, but runs closer to the sex-centric b-horror films of the late 60's. What's unique about these pictures is they both offer a more female perspective. This film stars Samantha Robinson as Elaine, the titular love witch. She uses spells to compel men to fall in love with her. Unfortunately, these spells don't always work as expected and often have tragic results for those who get wrapped around her finger.
"The Love Witch" is billed as a horror, but it doesn't really feel like one. This is what we would call a black comedy with a satirical feminist undertone. At least that's what we hope the idea was, because as a serious, earnestly acted horror film, this doesn't really work. But, as a somewhat comedic, campy piece of 60's pastiche with social commentary, it sort of works. The message here is clearly a feminist one about woman embracing their own sexual power and a belief that the female gender is the only one truly capable of love. It's a concept nary explored in the genre. The acting is stiff and the dialogue is a bit dry, though again, we do believe this to be intentional, but the execution isn't always in tip top shape.
The best part about this movie are its unique, striking visuals. Good god, is it gorgeous. The sets, decorations, costumes, props, everything oozes and drips flashy, striking colors and authenticity from a long forgotten era. This is one of the best 60's movies ever made in terms of its look, it just happened to come out in 2016. It reminded us of the scene in the first "Austin Powers" movie when he goes back in time. Anna Biller herself did all of the production, set, and costume design, as well as the art direction, and she does a superb job making it pop with vibrancy and vintage.
The biggest drawback of "The Love Witch" has to be its length and its pacing. A good 20-40 minutes could be easily trimmed here and there to make a more smoothly flowing, more truly 60's feeling film in terms of its run time. It's also uneven in many places and tends to repeat itself. Events that happen occur over and over, just with different men at Elaine's disposal.
If you go into "The Love Witch" expecting a true horror film in every sense of the bloody disgusting word, you will likely be disappointed as there is no real tension, no true terror, and an extremely limited amount of gore. This is not the type of movie that will have mass appeal across all manner of moviegoers, however, we do somewhat enjoy this for what it is. We absolutely love the authentic look about it, but dislike its run time and derivative nature.
My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?