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Review: BAD WITCH (2019)

I have to admit, when I first got offered the screener for Bad Witch, I hesitated. It sounded a bit like something that might have gotten pitched to Adam Sandler at some point. A sort of mashup of Big Daddy and Little Nicky, only with an older kid so they can have more hot women. Thankfully, directors Joshua Land and Victor Fink along with writer James Hennigan had a bit more in mind than that.

As a child, Xander (Clark Furlong) finds the remains of his ritually murdered father with a book of spells on his corpse. The adult Xander (Chris Kozlowski, I Like Me) has followed in his footsteps and is also a witch, (I suppose technically he’s a warlock, but that’s beside the point). He’s also a bit of a dick and when his use of magic to get with a woman gets him in hot water, he decides to go stay with his friend Henry (James Hennigan) and swear off spells and hexes.

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At least until he meets Roland Grimm (Jackson Trent, North Woods, Ape Canyon). Roland is a nice guy with a load of problems such as bullies, insecurities and a crush on Veronica (Clare Lefebure) who is very much out of his league. Xander decides the lad needs something to help him out and decides to teach him witchcraft.

Despite some of its posters, Bad Witch is primarily a comedy bookended by horror. Not quite the silly, slapstick kind of comedy the plot might have you think, though. It frequently takes a more sarcastic tone, mixing that with some more conventional humour. It also has a bit more substance, touching on things like morals and conscience, or the lack thereof. And it does it without getting heavy-handed.

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The horror elements start off strongly enough before taking a back seat to the humour. Bad Witch treats its craft as something for chuckles, including a great scene with a voodoo doll. But what starts as seemly harmless revenge on bullies Conrad (Jonathan Helwig) and Hans (Abe Kim) soon becomes something darker.

The final act goes a couple of places I wasn’t expecting, which is always a bonus. Unfortunately, it makes the final scenes that much more of a disappointment. Obviously I’m not going to give it away, but they could, and should have, come up with something less cliché.

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Overall an enjoyable blend of laughs and darkness, Bad Witch is currently looking for distribution. You can check the film’s Facebook page for news on its release or festival showings.

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