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By and large, most movies treat weddings as opportunities for comedy, with crazy new in-laws and whacky mishaps that tip the newlyweds close to chaos before wrapping it up in sentimental fluff, though some make them epic stages for character introductions in dramatic style. No matter the genre, they are a breeding ground for conflict, funny or otherwise, and in horror especially can become particularly twisted.
The strongest moments of 7 Witches, a slow-burning indie horror film about a coven of Wiccan are the interactions between the families themselves, and while there is much here that is familiar, it’s hard not to be taken in by the filmmaker’s commitment. Witches have long been portrayed in movies as menacing evil, and few stray from the tropes, perhaps as necessary as those of vampires zombies, so it’s not surprising to see 7 Witches do the same, though that’s not to say there are reasons enough to give this a look.
Kate (Persephone Apostolou) has come to an isolated seaside island with her small family to celebrate the wedding of her sister Rose (Danika Golombek), whom she has long been estranged, the two never a compatible pair. Rose is marrying Aggie (Megan Hensley), a goth-ish looking girl whose family all look and act like uptight Puritans in black 17th century dress. There is no phone service or internet and while they are a cordial bunch, there is something off about them that Kate and her aunt Paula (Macall Gordon) sense almost right away. Though when the wedding day arrives, things prove all the more strange and then terrifying as it becomes clear this is no wedding ceremony but something much more sinister.
Directed by Brady Hall, 7 Witches is a film of push-me-pull-yous as it begins with an almost molasses-like start, bringing Kate’s family together and setting up ‘issues’ of long-simmering resentment, mostly about alcohol (some drink too much and others not at all) and the care of Kate’s eccentric grandfather, who wanders about and speaks a little too freely. We learn about a personal challenge Kate is facing and her inability to rend herself from Cody (Mike Jones), her ex-boyfriend who has come with her since she hasn’t told anyone they’ve actually broken up. We don’t discover much about Aggie’s or her family’s past, though it isn’t until the third act when the film suddenly breaks from its anchors and lets uncoil some real horror, putting Kate through some paces.
The film is purposefully dark but does give Apostolou plenty of good moments. She holds her own with the drama and even some of the action, giving the ‘final girl’ tropes a bit of a run. Gordon is also great and gives the movie its best shots of humor as well as some emotion. There isn’t a bad performance in the lot, even as a few edge up pretty tightly to the line of unintended parody, especially Rory Ross as Henry, one of the witches who takes to stabbing and sneering with a kind of robustness that very nearly trips up the authenticity.
7 Witches is an unnerving little indie film, its jarring discorded score (by director and co-writer Hall) laying down the atmosphere with aggressively unsettling music that accompanies specific moments such as long shots of meats being carved for dinner, foreshadowing something far worse. Hall handles the horror and suspension well and yet this is a movie that immediately feels like something we’ve seen before, and it’s hard not to walk away a little unmoved by it all. That said, it’s a solid entry in an already heavily-saturated market and for fans, is well worth a look.
Movie description: 7 Witches is a 2017 horror thriller about a family who gathers for a special ceremony on a remote island on the same day a century-old curse comes to pass.
Director(s): Brady Hall
Actor(s): Persephone Apostolou, Megan Hensley, Mike Jones