Review: Joseph Lavender’s Ghost Witch

I remember this movie! Mitchell Wells and myself did several articles about it in 2012, 2013 and 2015 when it was going under the title Legend of Seven Toe Maggie. Boy, does time fly when you’re getting an indie horror film off the ground! The film is now going forward as Ghost Witch and is currently available on VOD courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing. For me, as the reviewer, I think the hardest part about getting my opinion across in regards to this title is the hype. Was the hype unwarranted? Did the movie live up to my hopes and anticipations 2-5 years later? Well, it succeeded in some areas while others left me seriously wanting more. Overall, it was an OK ghost movie, but ultimately it’s something we’ve seen dozens of times before. I think you know where I’m going with this…

Based on true events and based on the screenplay by Joseph Lavender and Jarrod Musselwhite, Ghost Witch follows Zeke (played by One Tree Hill’s Chase Steven Anderson), Mattie (played by The Walking Dead’s Mandi Christine Kerr), and a ragtag group of paranormal truth seekers who investigate an abandoned, haunted house in the middle of the woods. Locals tell the tale of Seven Toe Maggie, a woman brutally tortured – they cut off three of her toes, hence the name – and murdered in the house centuries ago and the bizarre happenings that have occurred there since. Hell, even Mattie was attacked there when she was just a child. What starts as a routine investigation turns into a stay-over of terror when Seven Toe Maggie possesses them one by one and uses them as unwilling participants in her deadly game of revenge. Josh Sinyard, Christina Pykles, Jessie Bockenek, Joseph Lavender, Elizabeth Barrett, Mandee Bloodworth, Travis Breedlove, April Hollingsworth and Gregory French (The Walking Dead) also star.

Now, in my opinion, the “paranormal investigators find more than they bargained for” subgenre of horror has been beaten to death over and over again. Can’t we let it rest at this point? I was hoping that Ghost Witch would bring something new to the table, but it was the same story rehashed in a different location with new characters. It’s just so overdone. This was particularly disappointing to me because I was already interested in this title because of the ghost story in place. There was so much they could’ve done with Seven Toe Maggie, but I feel like the writers really dropped the ball with that. Sure, it was cool that she could possess people without much of an effort and she did a few things that were a little odd, but the character never lived up to her own potential. Very disappointed there, guys. And, honestly, there’s not much for horror fans to hold on to up until the 45 minute mark. Ghost Witch is very subdued and builds its arcs in tiers that go from boring to just above average and I wouldn’t define any of it as scary. You know something’s wrong when the investigators survive the first night without a problem.

What I really did love, though, is the location… even though I feel like the production dropped the ball on this, too. The house is a mix of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and American Horror Story: Murder House and whoever was in charge of location scouting deserves a major round of applause. That’s a frickin’ location and the second biggest reason why I was excited to see Ghost Witch. It’s so spacious, so run-down and so… magical. It really became a character of its own, exuding old school horror movie charm while carrying a modern story. And, even better, the house has a very Night of the Demons quality to it, but you’ll probably have to watch this on VOD to see what I mean there. I wish the production used the house more as the foundation for more hearty scares. Instead, they started with the cool people – bullies and binge drinkers – at a party, saw the team head to a diner, and relied on flashbacks all to move out of the location from time to time. Big mistake. Though, I do appreciate the change of scenery.

I can’t say there was too much that I didn’t like, but there was a lot that failed to blow me away. Besides some noticeable audio problems, there aren’t any glaring mistakes as far as principal photography and post-production editing goes. Ghost Witch switches from flashbacks to narrative film to found footage without a set time-line and I’m thoroughly glad the whole thing wasn’t done like Paranormal Activity. Then I’d really have a gripe. The acting was excellent from an independent standpoint and the story even features a surprise side-plot that I definitely didn’t see coming. So, I’ll give them points for changing up the dynamic near the end. Ghost Witch was produced by Stephen Dixon, Ian Del Carmen, Kathy Morrow, Lin Barnes, Anna Bennett and Brenda Phillips with cinematographer and editor Joseph Lavender. It’s a fairly decent flick that drops the ball when it matters most and doesn’t deliver the best scares. I don’t think it was worth the wait, but people who liked Grave Encounters will enjoy this. Final Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Written by MGDSQUAN

(Senior Editor) MGDSQUAN