Synopsis: A beautiful young woman is driven into a dark underworld of demonic possession, desire, and extreme indulgences when she learns she may be the devil’s kin.
Release Date: June 6, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Fantasy, Horror
Mark of the Witch is about a young woman named Jordyn (Paulie Rojas from The Last Resort) who was raised by her Aunt Ruth (Helter Skelter‘s Nancy Wolfe) from a very young age. Upon turning eighteen, Jordyn learns the truth about her parentage; she was not orphaned, her mother abandoned her, and Aunt Ruth has been protecting her from.something. Around this time, Jordyn begins having threatening visions of a strange woman (Maria Olsen from Starry Eyes and Southbound). Jordyn’s life gets more and more surreal, and she is left to wonder if the woman in her visions is the thing that her aunt warned was coming for her.
When Mark of the Witch was making its festival run in 2014 and 2015, it was exhibited under the title Another. For its wide release this year, it has been mysteriously renamed, possibly to cash in on the hype that has been generated by Robert Eggers’ The Witch. The name change is a curious move, because not only is the new title very generic, but the movie itself isn’t really a witch movie as all.
The creation of writer/director/cinematographer Jason Bognacki, Mark of the Witch is a weird and disjointed affair, yet it is somehow very easy to follow. That’s because there’s not a whole lot that happens. It’s much more of a visual movie than a narrative one; basically, it’s all atmosphere and very little story.
For what it’s worth, Mark of the Witch does look pretty good. Aside from some terrible CGI fire and blood, the visual imagery is well done, drawing influence from seventies occult movies as well as from Italian giallo cinema. There are some very creepy moments, such as when a digital alarm clock suddenly reads 6:66 (clocks don’t so that!), or when Jordyn’s face in a mirror morphs into that of the strange woman in her visions (one of the few alarming scenes in the film), but they’re all just window dressing, simple little snippets of hyper-reality that try to distract from the fact that the movie has a very thin excuse for a plot.
Mark of the Witch is a great example of style over substance. It’s entertaining enough, but there’s no deep subtext or powerful metaphor. There’s nothing profound or meaningful, but damn, is it ever stunning to look at.
Unfortunately for Mark of the Witch, the stunning imagery isn’t enough to generate any real fear. For the most part, the movie is pretty light on scares. For her part, Maria Olsen tries really hard to raise some goosebumps in the viewers by putting on quite a wicked show with her character, but even that falls short of the mark (no pun intended). The best that Mark of the Witch has is a handful of tense suspense scenes, and that’s not enough for a horror movie to be effective these days. A good horror movie needs scares, and Mark of the Witch just doesn’t have them.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jason Bognacki
- Producer(s): Aline Bognacki
- Screenwriter(s): Jason Bognacki
- Cast: Paulie Rojas (Jordyn)David Landry (Donny)Maria Olsen (Demon Witch) Lillian Pennypacker (Kym)Michael St. Michaels (John)Nancy Wolfe (Aunt Ruth)
- Cinematographer: Jason Bognacki
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA