Cast: Paulie Rojas, Maria Olsen, David Landry, Nancy Wolfe, Lillian Pennypacker, Michael St. Michaels
Director: Jason Bognacki
Writer: Jason Bognacki
Running time: 80 minutes
Rated: Not rated (contains language, violence, brief nudity)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society
Look for Mark of the Witch to be released on 6/6/16 from Epic Pictures!
Witches have been around to terrorize us since the dawn of time. They’re not all peaceful Wiccans or Glenda, the good witch of the North, some are pure evil and out to do us harm. Such is the case with the new film, Mark of the Witch from Epic Pictures. The film was formerly known as Another and I can see why the studio changed the name due the ambiguity of the title. This modern take on witchcraft is a rather ambitious attempt by writer and director Jason Bognacki at pulling off a modern day giallo film.
In the film, Jordyn (Paulie Rojas) has just turned 18 years-old. She has been orphaned since infancy when her mother passed away. Her Aunt Ruth (Nancy Wolfe) serves as her guardian and takes care of her. But at her 18th birthday party, her Aunt Ruth plunges a butcher knife into her own chest after spewing some cryptic dialogue. Ruth survives the attempted suicide but it has left Jordyn shaken.
Jordyn begins to experience surrealistic visions and nightmares and comes to discover that a malevolent witch (Maria Olsen) has been following her every move hoping to insinuate herself into Jordyn’s world in an attempt to use her body to live on forever.
Mark of the Witch is a smorgasbord for the eyes. It is one of the most lavishly photographed films of recent memory. It evokes classic Italian giallo films, most especially Dario Argento’s Suspiria. It gets an A+ for the beautiful imagery and camera work.
The performances are incredibly well done. The three main leads are superb. Paulie Rojas as Jordyn, Maria Olsen as the witch and Nancy Wolfe as Aunt Ruth are all cast perfectly. Olsen is suitably creepy and turns in a great performance as the evil witch. As with another genre favorite of mine, Bill Oberst Jr., Olsen has a look that’s made for horror films. The young Rojas is convincing as a woman coming-of-age dealing with the dark subject matter.
The film has a couple sequences of blood being spilled but nothing too outrageous or gory. It’s rather subdued in the gore department but that’s not what the film is about. It’s about telling a story through imagery and it accomplishes that very well.
The only gripe I have with Mark of the Witch is that sometimes the narrative becomes ambiguous without any clear explanations. Some of the narrative becomes disjointed at points, which is one of the film’s drawbacks. The ending is like this, which left me scratching my head a bit but maybe it needs repeat viewings for clearer interpretations. But you know what? That’s okay because the film is so damn beautiful to look at, I can forgive a lot.
Mark of the Witch is a classic example of style over substance, which in this case, I feel is acceptable because without the look of the film, there’s not much of a movie there.
Bognacki’s film may not be for all tastes, but for fans of classic Argento and Bava films, especially Suspiria, Mark of the Witch is a real treat. Its surrealistic visuals with colorful hallucinatory images are sure to inspire nightmares! Give the film a shot and stick with it to the end. Jason Bognacki’s Mark of the Witch heralds in a new era of giallo!
4 out of 5 Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer here,