THE LOVE WITCH (2016)
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
The Love Witch is a delightful and colorful throwback to the erotic pulp witchcraft and romance flicks of the 60s, perfectly imitating the technicolor look and style. It tells the story of lovelorn witch Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson) who turned to witchcraft after her devastating divorce. She now uses love spells to lure her men, though these spells usually result in a tragic death for the current object of her affections. A rookie police detective (Gian Keys) is hot on her trail, but will the handsome policeman be the next to fall victim to Elaine’s supernatural charms?
Filmmaker Anna Biller proves quite the workaholic by producing, writing and directing this charming and sexy homage, while designing the nostalgic 60s costumes and sets as well. The result is not only an incredible recreation of a long gone era of filmmaking, but deftly mixes in some feminist messages about the power of a woman’s sexuality and the depth of a man’s fear of it. The film is loaded with colorful characters, some very spicy sex and of course, plenty of spells and witchcraft, as our Elaine goes from one man to another, leaving a trail of bodies, until she meets Det. Griff Meadows…could he finally be the one? It’s a spooky and sexy ride to find out and while there are those who may not appreciate the moderate pacing, it matches the type of films it pays tribute to perfectly. Anna Biller displays both a creative talent and a deep love for her influences that are reason enough to watch this flick alone. It also has generous helpings of sex, nudity…and even a pinch of bondage…with a bit of blood spattering just as in the trashy, fun flicks this film embraces the style of. At the same time, it also succeeds in telling the story of a woman in search of love and finding her own sexuality, but all with a vengeance. It’s wrapped in a package of sumptuous cinematography by M. David Mullen and told with the performance style and dialog of a bygone era that is all but lost. It’s not perfect. It’s a tad too long at two hours, a Renaissance Fair sequence in particular seems to drag on, but otherwise this a really enjoyable tale of female empowerment and a creatively crafted love letter to the pulp/witchcraft films of the 60s.
The cast all get the material perfectly. Lead Samantha Robinson is both stunningly beautiful and a captivating actress in a performance that oozes sexuality and mystery. She delivers the deliberately stylized performance as if time was turned back fifty years and does so with a charm and charisma of a star in the making. Her Elaine is enchantress, seductress and 60s housewife with a vengeance, all in one. Gian Keys also captures the tone of the heroic leads of that era with his rookie detective who falls for his #1 suspect. He is both charming and a bit arrogant. There is also Laura Waddell as Elaine’s new friend Trish. Trish is a perky girl next door type who seems a bit naive to Elaine’s witchy ways, till her own man is stolen by the enchantress. We also have good work by Jeffrey Vincent Parise as a teacher and Robert Seeley as Trish’s husband, both victims of Elaine’s quest for love.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie a lot for not only it’s tribute to an almost lost style of film-making, but for the story of a woman coming into her own sexual power, though with a deadly side effects towards her pursuits. Anna Biller shows she is a creative force to be reckoned with, much like her Elaine in some ways, by being a one woman studio on this spooky, sexy and fun flick. Both a filmmaker and lead actress to keep an eye on!
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) cards of love.