The Haunting of Pendle Hill (2022) Review

The Haunting of Pendle Hill Poster

Writer/director Richard John Taylor’s (The Krays: Gangsters Behind Bars, The Huntress of Auschwitz) new film The Haunting of Pendle Hill is based around the trial and execution of the Pendle Witches in 1612. Given how well known and documented those trials were I suppose it was only a matter of time before Pendle Hill became the location of a horror film. The question is, is it good enough to bewitch its audience?

In the 1600s John Law (James Hamer-Morton, Pandamonium, Powertool Cheerleaders vs the Boyband of the Screeching Dead) heads out on his journey across Pendle Hill after dark despite the warnings of his friend Roger Nowell (Noel Brendan Mcalley, Vengeance). Once in the woods, he meets a masked child who brings his journey to a quick end.

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In the present day, a man (John Battersby) walking through the woods in broad daylight meets what appears to be the same girl Jennet Device (Evie Hughes in some scenes, Megan Butler in others). When he fails to return home from what was a research trip for his new book, coincidently called The Haunting of Pendle Hill, his daughter Matilda (Lowri Watts-Joyce, Muse, The Krays: Dead Man Walking) is sent to England to look for him by her Uncle Alfred (Nicholas Ball, Lifeforce, Doom Room).

The Haunting of Pendle Hill switches back and forth between the past and present-day stories throughout its running time contrasting the search for Mr. Law with the hunt for Matilda’s father. Unfortunately, there’s barely enough going on to fill one story let alone two. Much of the time is spent watching Matilda talk to her Uncle’s friend Arthur (Jeffrey Charles Richards, Miles Away), the local priest Father Michael (Mark Topping, Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing, The Haunting of Alcatraz), or the local cop PC Webster (Jimmy ‘The Bee’ Bennett, Alien Outbreak, 400 Bullets).

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This wouldn’t be so bad if we were watching a mystery, but The Haunting of Pendle Hill claims to be a horror film so endless chatter about whether or not one believes in God or quoting classic literature is not what the audience tuned in to see. It also doesn’t help that Matilda comes off as spoiled and whiny, snapping and talking over people when she doesn’t get her way. I understand that she’s worried about her father, but being nasty to those helping just makes her unlikable and alienates the audience.

The dialogue in the Medieval segments of the film at least revolves around the witches. Roger Nowell was the witch hunter who tortured and executed them and now, alone in the dark woods with his daughter he fears supernatural revenge. It also has the film’s most effective scene, but that’s not saying much because The Haunting of Pendle Hill is the kind of film that manages to make a major character’s suicide dull. And then compound it by having the police not keep the gun he used as evidence.

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Apart from some nice shots of the ominously dark and misty English hills the only interesting moment in the film is when a character wonders aloud why the townsfolk feared the women accused of being witches rather than the men who were so quick to order people to be tortured and killed.

Actually, The Haunting of Pendle Hill sums itself up nicely in its first few minutes, Matilda takes a long shower, but all we see is her face and shoulders. And like that scene, the film is all tease with no follow-through. It can’t even end on a satisfying note, instead, it leaves the viewer to wonder if half of it was the figment of a failing mind.

High Fliers Films has released The Haunting of Pendle Hill on DVD as well as on Digital and VOD platforms in the UK. A US release is scheduled for June 28th. FilmTagger has some suggestions for other, and probably better, films along the same line.

Where to watch The Haunting of Pendle Hill
Our Score

One thought on “The Haunting of Pendle Hill (2022) Review

  • May 3, 2022 at 5:03 PM
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    Chronic horrendous nonsense loved the story original witch trials tragic as it was but no one should go near this gutter budget crap absolutely crap dont touch it

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