A New Standard For Splatter — ‘The Witch’ 1 And 2 Reviewed

If there was ever a film to go into completely cold, it would be The Witch films. If you enjoyed my other visceral action recommendations like Furies and Kill Boksoon then stop reading and go watch The Witch: Subversion. For those who need convincing: read on! Oh, and light spoiler warnings ahead.

Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung (I Saw The Devil) The Witch: Subversion is an incredibly slow burn but the payoff is well worth the wait. The first two thirds play out like a normal drama about a girl trying to win a singing competition but there’s a feeling of unease and menace simmering underneath. The third act of the film raises the stakes to such a degree that in many ways it feels like a different film entirely.

The core twist of The Witch: Subversion is that this is a world of psychics — the Akira-level, “murder you with a thought” kind. The film does an excellent job of blending action and horror. Under normal circumstances, the abilities used by the psychics would be considered overpowered. But through the horror lens, it only adds to the drama. The action in The Witch is a winning mix between the grounded martial arts that’s a staple of South Korean cinema and kinetic super-powered choreography. It’s like watching The Matrix but with more blood and gore.

This type of supernatural action is taken to the next level in The Witch 2: The Other One. Admittedly, The Witch 2 doesn’t solve any of the lingering questions from the first film as we follow a completely different protagonist. But as an expansion of The Witch universe and as an action horror film, The Witch 2 is a bloody great time.

I especially appreciated how the shadowy mad science organizations worked. Members of each company would talk about the business of human experimentation to create super psychics as if it were as banal as any ordinary occupation. The writers expect the audience to pay attention and piece together the complex lore of The Witch universe themselves. This lack of exposition and air of mystery is something I greatly appreciated.

Park Eun-bin, the breakout star from Extraordinary Attorney Woo, plays an unsettling yet charismatic villain. It’s great to see her acting range scale to someone who’s truly intimidating. I wish she’d been in the film more, but I’d gladly see more of her work.

The Witch 1 and 2 have set a new standard for the splatter genre. The two films have earned their place as unique gems thanks to their careful pacing, compelling characters, intriguing world, and unhinged action. This is the kind of transgressive filmmaking that elevates the horror and action genres. I hope daring filmmakers take note and learn from their example. If there’s ever going to be a Witch Part 3, I’ll be first in line!

The Witch: Subversion and The Witch 2: The Other Oneare now streaming on Shudder.

If there was ever a film to go into completely cold, it would be The Witch films. If you enjoyedCOMICONRead More

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