A while back I reviewed Carl Sundström’s excellent short Safe Haven. So when he offered me a screener of his feature Documenting The Witch Path I was more than happy to have a look at it. And while it was completely different in content and style, I still found it an interesting film.
Sundström describes Documenting the Witch Path as “a documentary film edited as a found-footage horror film”, and to a degree, that is a good description. But we know from the start they survived. And there are frequent interviews with them among the footage of the trip and the preparations for it. So it never really has a found footage vibe.
Documenting the Witch Path feels more like one of those documentaries that used to be on TV every weekend. Or the ones companies like Sunn-Classic would release. The ones where a group would bravely go off to look for Bigfoot, aliens or Noah’s Ark. They suffer scary occurrences and survive near catastrophe before finally making it back home.
In this case, the object of interest is Witch Lake, the site of mass executions of alleged witches in medieval times. Carl and his friends have their interest piqued when they discover the tourist attraction isn’t the lake where the events occurred. The actual lake was built up to be an attraction, but them hastily and mysteriously abandoned.
Their investigations into the reasons for this are met with ominous warnings from the locals. Ominous enough that one of the trio drops out. The remaining pair finish their plans and trek to the lake. There they do indeed encounter strange and threatening phenomena until they are literally saved by the bell. However, there’s a final revelation yet to come.
While there’s never really the kind of suspense you get when you don’t know if characters will live or die, Documenting The Witch Path does have plenty of creepy moments. And some of these are reminiscent of events from a found footage film. At one point one of them even compares what’s happening to The Blair Witch Project.
Running 65 minutes Documenting The Witch Path just qualifies as a feature. But it also means it avoids a lot of the padding these kinds of films often suffer from. It’s just long enough to do what it sets out to do.
The ending of Documenting The Witch Path will either make you mad or make you grin depending on your point of view and what you believe and believe in. It was a risky move, but a good one ultimately, some buttons deserve to be pushed.