FEW films in recent memory have simultaneously pastiched and felt thoroughly a part of a stylised and melodramatic bygone era as this oddball witch’s brew of a horror-comedy from writer-director Anne Biller.
Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is a modern-day witch who uses her looks, seductive charm and specially made love potions to lure various men to her and get them to fall in love with her.
When she moves to a new small town to continue her work, it garners the suspicious attention of a determined local police officer. She’s like a potion-wielding wolf in Stepford-wife clothing and the men better watch out.
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To its credit it’s a film that feels like it genuinely could have come out 40 or 50 years ago, evoking a time that now feels distant, but is nicely realised on screen here, whether it’s the faux aesthetic (kitsch wardrobe, exaggerated make-up, outdated ’60s music) or intentionally campy character interactions.
It all serves to create a mood that whisks us back to a time – and style of cinema – that’s now out of reach, served up with a knowing wink and tongue lodged firmly in its cheek.
The overall idea does start to wane in the second half, dragging its feet and getting rather repetitive because of its overlong two-hour runtime. But there’s a good amount of fun to be had in how it mixes together everything from campy dialogue and a kind of horror soap-opera plot to a genuinely tragic undercurrent that comments on female sexuality, expected norms and how society has (and continues to) treat the gender.