In Kyle Rankin’s THE WITCH FILES, the idea of getting detention seems more compelling than reality has let on. Claire (Holly Taylor), a gawky nerd, has the enthralling task of reporting on its merit and what better way than to visit the scene itself. Claire disrupts detention to get to the meat of the matter: why are you here? And does detention even help?
With a handheld camera, Claire interviews three disparate teenagers: Brooke (Alice Ziolkoski), the bitchy queen bee; Greta (Adrienne Rose White), the All-Star; and M.J. (Tara Robinson), the love-struck scaredy-cat. She also notices a fourth who seems unfazed by her questioning. As the others assure her that she will not participate, the enigmatic red-tipped goth arises with unanticipated enthusiasm. Jules (Britt Flatmo) landed in detention by breaking the leg of a hefty boy, which immediately suggests witchcraft. More than happy to show off, Jules proves to the skeptics her gift by setting off the fire alarm through the suggested method of believing in yourself. Curious and eager to obtain the same powers, the girls decide to meet at a spiritual landing in the woods where through the power of belief and incantation each girl turns into a witch and forms a bond creating a coven.
The transformation is incredibly subtle and allows the fantasy of becoming a teenage witch almost seem feasible. At first, there are no physical changes and it takes some time for their new reality to sink in. Slowly, they realize that they can do anything, and compile a list of their ultimate desires. As each witch satiates their novel form of consumerism, they start to notice physical deteriorations. When a detective (Paget Brewster) picks up on their self-indulgent trail, they learn that their coven has precedent and that they should be forewarned. Paranoia starts to set in and no witch can be trusted. Will they learn to work together in the face of their tribulations? Or will they turn against each other and break their bond?
Channeling The Craft with touches of Mean Girls and The Blair Witch Project, THE WITCH FILES is endlessly endearing and entertaining. The cast did a fantastic job bringing the script to life and keeping you engrossed in the movie. You care for each character as they have their own niche and ailment. You stay interested because the pace of their budding relationships is not rushed and stays true to each character. Brooke, however, was the most fascinating to follow as her quick wit and narcissistic demeanor provided the most controversy amongst the girls and showed she had the most to grow.
The shaky cam with its jolty zoom took me some time to get used to but it is broken up with static security footage and at least the quality is crisp. In a film dealing with the supernatural, I got a little nervous anticipating the quality and use of the special effects, but THE WITCH FILES limited its use to the occasional jets of lightening, force fields, growth, and invisibility.
For those of you who want a feel-good Halloween movie without any frights, THE WITCH FILES was made for you. It’s an easy and bewitching (pun intended) watch that makes you ask yourself, what would you do if you were a witch?
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