Horror Movie Review: The Love Witch (2016)

“I’m the love witch, your ultimate fantasy!”

The Love Witch is a 2016 horror-thriller film written and directed by Anna Biller, about a modern-day witch who uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas.

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The opening has us following the young and beautiful Elaine (Samantha Robinson) driving into town to begin her new life after her old one has been filled with tragedy and disappointment (her ex-husband Jerry left her and then shortly after died of an overdose). After being introduced to her Victorian apartment and having tea with a new friend Trish (Laura Waddell), she quickly gets to work to find herself a man. While in town she spots Wayne (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), a local lecturer, and uses her love magic to she entice him closer and convinces him to take her back to his remote house in the woods. As they park up she persuades Wayne to drink a mysterious concoction from her hip flask before they can go inside.

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Following a delicious, home cooked meal prepared by Elaine, Wayne starts to feel the effects of the contents in the hip flask (now assumed to be a love potion) and he starts to hallucinate as Elaine gets “more comfortable”. They make love but afterwards Wayne begins to feel a sudden rush of overwhelming emotions, but Elaine leaves him to suffer and call out her name all night as no one had comforted her when she’d suffered previously. The next morning still wracked with new-found emotions, Wayne dies suddenly and is buried by Elaine behind his house who performs a witch ritual on his grave.

Later on, Elaine meets the owner of her apartment and fellow witch, Barbara (Jennifer Ingrum), and her husband, Gahan (Jared Sanford), in the local strip club. They discuss the power of a woman’s sexuality and classes the duo are teaching. We cut away to be introduced to our lawman with a heart of stone, Griff (Gian Keys). In his office is a young lady reporting the disappearance of her friend Wayne, so Griff and his partner decide to go by the house and check it out.

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Meanwhile, Elaine’s new friend Trish has gone out of town for work so she invites her husband, Richard (Robert Seeley) over to keep him company. As before with Wayne she encourages Richard to drink a love potion and he too hallucinates while she seduces him. He too becomes irrational and overcome with emotion but they make love anyway.

Back to Griff and the scene at Wayne’s house makes it clear that something suspicious has happened as the man clearly didn’t bury himself. After looking around his grave they discover evidence of Elaine’s ritual; a witch bottle (filled with her used tampon amongst other ingredients). Griff noses around town and after discovering Elaine makes witch bottles to sell at a nearby shop; he decides to pay her a visit.

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We see that Richard is suffering greatly, drinking heavily and depressed out of his mind while Trish looks on, unsure of how to respond to this sudden decline in her husband. But, Elaine has gotten away with her misdeeds and her life is far more rosy, as Griff indeed pays her a visit and they become romantically involved.

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Will this love witch find true happiness, or should she be looking closer to home for love? Watch and find out, because the ending is unconventional at best.

The Love Witch is a beautifully shot homage to the 60’s, the style looks incredible on screen as does the gorgeously made up Samantha Robinson as Elaine. But looking past purely the visuals, this film has more to offer; exploring societal issues revolving around femininity and sexuality. Although I felt the attitude towards the men in the film were questionable (for example, Wayne is a pussy because he cried?) as was Elaine’s actions, which confused the message of the movie for me somewhat. Though I do understand that Elaine has had terrible experiences in the past and clearly isn’t in her right mind. Overall, I enjoyed the dark comedic moments, most of the pro-feminist message even if it was sometimes skewed, and the thrilling nature of the story.

The Love Witch
  • 6/10
    The Final Score - 6/10
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