Hey there, I’m Jared. I have 496 movies and shows in my Instant Queue and that’s just way too many. I’m not adding anymore movies or shows to it until it’s empty. So, I’m going to start at Number One and work my way down the list and give you guys a choice of the next five in my queue, in order, all the way to the end. But, I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that too. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? Witching and Bitching (2013)
What’s it rated? Unrated for disrespecting Jesus, a manchild that lives in a shit hole and the weirdest final 20 minutes I’ve seen in a while.
Did people make it? Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarria and Alex de la Iglesia. Directed by Alex de la Iglesia. Acted by Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Carolina Bang.
What’s it like in one sentence? A Raimi-esque genre mash-up along the lines of From Dusk Till Dawn viewed through the lens of a screwball comedy.
Why did you watch it? I might be a little obsessed with Alex de la Iglesia.
What’s it about in one paragraph? A couple of bank robbers, a child and a kidnapped taxi driver all end up on the run from Madrid and are headed for France to escape the police. Their escape is short lived however, when they come across a creepy small town near the border filled with women that seem a little…off. Will they survive the night and escape the country with their riches or be dragged into a centuries old celebration to bring about the end of the world? I bet you can guess which is more likely.
Play or remove from my queue? I would play it but with the added caveat to keep your expectations low, especially if you’ve seen The Last Circus. I have to be honest, The Last Circus was my favorite film of 2010 and I also really enjoyed As Luck Would Have It, so I was a teensy bit overhyped for this one. And, honestly, as damned entertaining and fun as it is to watch, Witching and Bitching is kind of a bad movie.
The first half of the movie is pretty great, as it sets up the robbers very well and gives you a good sense of who they are and what motivates them, but they have the same problem as everyone else in the entire film does. They are dumb as shit. And I get that it’s a conscious choice on behalf of the writers and Alex de la Iglesia to make them that way since as the story progresses it’s almost a Laurel and Hardy adventure, but it keeps the stakes incredibly low. All the men in the movie are either horn dogs or learning disabled and all the women are either shrews, evil or easily controlled by their emotions. Their choices are dictated by script and not by character, plus it hits a point where each character is acting so willfully stupid that you have to stop rooting for them after awhile.
None of this stops the movie from having a propulsive forward momentum that keeps you excited to see where the film as going, but as we settle into the final act it’s recognizable that the build of the film isn’t going to enter into a “oh my god how can it get any worse for these peopleTHAT’S HOW, HOLY SHIT IT’S WORSE, IT’S SO MUCH WORSE” phase that genre classics like Sheitan, Frontier(s), Calvaire and Martyrs did exceptionally well. In the opening robbery, people die and the stakes are real and severe, but instead of the film progressing into darker and scarier places, it instead becomes goofier and more ridiculous. Which is totally fine if you aren’t me and hoping for something as powerful and profound as The Last Circus. Again, my own expectations were my undoing here. If I went into this expecting something along the lines of House 2 or Transylvania 6-5000 then I would have enjoyed this much more.
Also, everyone in this movie survives. Everyone. Even the villains that we see die terribly reappear with no explanation or fanfare and send the movie into its closing credits with their maniacal laughter. This is a movie that fades to black on maniacal laughter. From characters we have zero connection to other than they were goofy and kind of a little scary. I know Alex de la Iglesia has true horror in him (see The Last Circus!) and I thought since he was doing what seemed like a straight ahead heist/horror film, there would actually be some scary moments. There’s definitely some creepiness and gross-out gags sprinkled throughout, but the film never blends its goofy script with its well drawn characters well enough to make any of the fearsome witches truly frightening. They actually just seem sad and delusional, even when feeding children to a 100 foot tall topless CG witch demon.
The biggest driving force of the plot in the final third is a romance that pops up out of nowhere and is supposed to be true love that will conquer all. It could have worked if the character’s stayed true to themselves, but everyone is so goofily written that any individual agency is dictated by the script’s indecipherable whims. Carolina Bang and Hugo Silva are both very talented actors and have a genuinely sweet chemistry, but the entire finale rests on their love and I didn’t really buy it for a second.
I didn’t hate this movie although it sounds like I did. It reminded me of early Sam Raimi mixed with early Peter Jackson and that’s not something I could hate even if it was calling my mom names. I just expect more from Alex de la Iglesia. I’m sure he had a blast making the movie because all the actors seem about to burst into smiles at every turn. I don’t know. This movie was junk food and will be forgotten by me in weeks or even days, which is cool because we all need movie junk food every once and awhile, but this one could have been so much more. It’s right up against the line of being a classic as it starts and then slowly backs away from it as the film progresses. Because it’s de la Iglesia the film looks amazing and is always beautifully directed (except for some abysmal CGI), but what’s the point of it all when it leads to something so simultaneously original and forgettable? A stronger script could have made this movie a modern classic. Instead it’s just a fun diversion from a director capable of so much more.
How’s the music? Fun, loud and bombastic as hell.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Chair (Spoopy), Black Forest (only made it about 10 minutes in), Mine Games (will get to this one eventually), Shivers (good one) and Barrio Tales (might not ever watch this).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? I am now in love with Carolina Bang. That is a fact. It is fun.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.1
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 2.5
Can you link to the movie? As you wish.
Any last thoughts? This is a very entertaining movie and it’s filled with fun ideas and gorgeous photography. Alex de la Iglesia is one of the finest filmmakers working today and if this movie had come from an unknown, I would call it a flawed by exciting first attempt. But because it’s him, I’m having trouble giving it a pass. Watch it yourself and tell me whether I’m being too hard on it.
What else you watching? Season 3 of American Horror Story and Season 2 of Vikings!!
Next Week? Your choice, Chewers!!