"Mark of the Witch follows Jordyn, a beautiful young woman who is driven into an underworld of demonic possession, desire, and extreme indulgences when she learns she may be the devil's daughter." Sounds like a pretty cool little film, and it should have been.
Director Jason Bognacki has made a film that's equal parts Suspiria and dream sequence. He attempts to instill the film with an ethereal, almost other worldly quality. Unfortunately, the film can't seem to strike that elegant balance between supernatural fairy tale and realistic horror film a la Suspiria. I was too lazy to time it, but it seems that 75 percent of the film is shown in slow motion or is a flashback sequences. There may only be about 20 minutes of actual footage in the film.
Those 20 minutes are wonderful looking. The film won a couple awards on the festival circuit for editing and cinematography and I can see why. Visually, Mark of the Witch checks a lot of the boxes that make a film great. The film fails because Bognacki lets the visuals overwhelm the narrative. Leaving the story empty and unfulfilled as the credits start to role.
The story of Mark of the Witch is a simple one. Hell, scroll back up and read the lazily cut and pasted synopsis. The film can be summarized well in just to lines. What should eb a fairly straight forward story telling pattern is muddled to incomprehension by Bognackis apparent love of 70's Argento films. Bognacki isn't Argento though,and that's why Mark of the Witch fails.
There are some quality performances in the film. Genre fave and friend of the site Maria Olsen is very good, if not a bit miscast, as Jordyn's witch/devil worshiping mother. Where as despite her excellent performance, Olsen's casting may have missed the mark, the casting of Paulie Rojas as wide eyed ingenue, Jordyn. It's unfortunate that her vulnerable, innocent, performance is muddled by editorial decisions.
What's interesting in considering Mark of the Witch, is that as an underground, independent, artsy little horror film, named Another it fits. As a mass market film, with the expectations imbued by the title Mark of the Witch, it's a failure. Is it right to hold nomenclature bullshit bullshit against a film? Yes and no. The content of the film is the same, but when you dial up a film named Another, as a viewer your expectations are completely different than when you do the same with a film named Mark of the Witch.
Mark of the Witch is visually interesting film that ultimately fails because it's narrative is sacrificed in the name of aesthetic feel. Check it out if you are a fan artsy, ethereal horror films, but don't look for a film that matches the expectation of it's new title. Mark of the Witch is set to hit VOD via Epic Pictures on 06/06/16
** stars out of *****