The Love Witch: Film Review
About a month ago the first trailer for Anna Biller's the Love Witch surfaced on the internet. The film looked like a potent cocktail of late 70's made for TV cinema, mid-60's Hammer Horror (ex. the Devil Rides Out), with a dose of the EuroCult influence of Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, and Walerian Borowczyk. Just those short moments were enough to convince me that this could be one of the most exciting slices of cinema to come out in 2016.
The Love Witch stars Samantha Robinson as Elaine a woman who drives down the California coast line to leave her old life behind, and settle in a new town. Upon arrival she acquires an apartment from estate agent Trish. She then begins to get settled, by selling her homemade crafts to local stores, and start her obsessive mission to find a man. The first object of her desire is a local university professor, who she convinces to take her to his cabin in the woods. During this experience, she makes him dinner, and tricks him into drinking a love potion. This brings out his true desires, which are more than a bit whiny. This ends up being a turn off to Elaine, but no bother as the potion ends up having a fatal effect on the man. She ends up burying him in his garden with a bottle containing her urine and a used tampon. This might make any other character rethink their strategy, but Elaine is obsessed with love, and continues her quest to find her loving man. Unfortunately, magic doesn't make things any easier for her.
Biller sets the film in modern times, but gives the film a very 60's and 70's visual style. The film has a candy coated technicolor look that I just adored, and made me want to watch the film multiple times just to experience. Simply put, Biller's use of color here is some of the finest in any film I have seen in years. This can be seen in everything from the wardrobe, to the set design, to the visual effects used throughout the film.
I would be underselling the film if I were just playing it as a simple visual experience. The Love Witch is filled to the brim with amazing stylized performances from top to bottom, but special notice has to be given to Samantha Robinson who owns her role as Elaine. She seems to completely live inside this role, and everything about the performance from the look to the voice over that is used to espouse Elaine's thoughts is pitch perfect.
With 2016 almost half over, and most of the year's films already on the schedule I can pretty safely say viewers are unlikely to see a horror film aa unique and interesting as Anna Biller's The Love Witch. The film is hypnotic, compelling, and one of the most visually stunning films this reviewer has seen in years. It is currently on the festival circuit, and if it is playing in your community, I highly recommend catching it. One final closing note the film was shot and printed on 35mm, so a legitimate print is circulating, which would make this highly visual film even more detailed and gorgeous. If you get the chance, see this film.
The Love Witch: 5/5