The Last Witch Review
The Last Witch is a 2017 Spanish language horror film about three friends who film a documentary about a woman convicted of witchcraft 400 years ago in the town of Terrassa, Spain.
You many not know it, but entire studios are devoted to producing nothing but found footage films and do so with alarming regularity. This is good news for fans of the genre and at least allows filmmakers willing to experiment with the narrative device a place to get some exposure. And don’t think this is only an American phenomenon. They’re doing it all over the world, which brings us to Carlos Almón Muñoz‘s latest, The Last Witch, a Spanish film that in summary sounds a little familiar to the genre’s infamous originator, The Blair Witch Project, but manages to find some creativity all its own, even as its characters embrace the plot with unblinking commitment.
Friends, Sandra (Paula Pier), Eduardo (Jorge Gallardo), and Mario (Alfonso Romeo), perhaps bored in their quaint Spanish villa, decide to shoot a documentary, and looking for something with some bite, settle on the legend of the Terressa witch trials, where it’s said in 1619, six women were arrested and confessed to being witches. Five were hanged but the last unaccounted for, her name Joanna Toy (Clara Gayo). As luck would have it, Sandra’s ancestor was one of the condemners, and after some research, they set about to learn more, discovering a trail of terror where a ghost from the past seeks vengeance in the now.
The found footage film thrives in jumpscares in the dark, a foundation of the genre that works simply because most people are hardwired to be afraid of what we can’t see. Add to that the handheld cameras and herky-jerky movements that have become mainstays of the filmmaking style, and these movies, even as they fall into similar ruts, act like chemical jolts designed to trigger reactionary emotions rather than visceral experiences. Muñoz understands this and as such, doesn’t stray far from the formula, sticking to expositional dialogue and setups to build to the moments fans come looking for.
A lot of the film is just the three leads traveling about collecting information, bonding and having roller coaster moments of humor and horror as they edge closer to the truth about Toy. This is all purposefully low budget filmmaking and successfully checks off all the clichés we’ve come to expect, from driving sequence, to nights in a tent, to losing a map, to wandering about abandoned houses. They bicker and blame each other as well as work together and for the most part, it’s all pretty convincing as the young cast keep it all sounding natural and organic. Muñoz builds some decent suspense once things get moving and delivers plenty of creepy atmosphere. Junkies of this sort of thing will have more than enough to celebrate even if you’ve seen it all before.
The Last Witch does do something interesting in the final act that elevates the rest of the film with some truly unusual horror that reveals more than most in the genre do, though it’s plagued by illogic of course, as nearly every movie of the like is, with characters filming even as their lives are in extreme danger. As a story, it doesn’t quite have the realism it strives for, but as a horror film, does precisely what it intends.
The Last Witch Review
Director(s): Carlos Almón Muñoz
Actor(s): Fernando Tato, Pepe Penabade, Alfonso Romeo
Genre: Found Footage, Horror