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‘Two Witches’ (review)

Two Witches is an American horror film directed by Pierre Tsigaridis and starring Belle Adams, Rebekah Kennedy, and Kristina Klebe. It premiered at the Salem Horror Film Festival in 2021 and was picked up for distribution by Arrow who have it available for streaming now.

Two Witches prostrates itself before the altar of the Italian horror cinema of the 70’s and early 80’s. It strongly evokes Suspiria, yes, as every other reviewer has pointed out but I was most reminded of Inferno, Argento’s even less grounded follow up, Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, and more than once, of the gonzo gross-out assault that is Cannibal Holocaust.

While it lacks the visual daring of those films, it trades on the same kind of ominous, nameless, dread as the backbone of the film.

It doesn’t have the budget to go as far as those films did, but when it works it puts you in the middle of a nightmare from which you cannot wake.

Unfortunately the episodic structure of the film is deeply uneven and the ending builds to a much better movie that makes you wish they would’ve started there. In other markets this film screened as Blow Out the Candles Part I, and the ending makes it very clear that this is less a fully realized statement and more a rough “proof of concept” that will maybe realize the filmmakers the money to make the film they’d really like to next time out.

Two Witches has two main stories and then a frame.

Both stories trade on familiar American horror themes: juvenile parties and one night stands and begin with the cheapest kinds of sound ramps and jump scares. In both stories I was ready to write off the proceedings, but when the film finally committed to its own dark surrealism and allowed what we were seeing to be “real” and not merely dreams or visions, then you’re treated to an excellent indie Euro style horror film.

The first story in particular has such an outstanding climax that sneaks up on you so effectively that, if you let it, you’ll have changed how you’re sitting in your chair before you know it. It drew me right back into the film, and elevated my expectations for the rest of the film. I don’t want to spoil it but the film went from “fun house jump scare” to “gore factory” so quickly I got cinematic whiplash and I loved it. Full marks to Kristina Klebe and Ian Michaels who do real yeoman’s work to sell everything there. I haven’t had as much fun with a low budget horror film in recent memory.

I’m not sure the second story really lives up to it– Rebekah Kennedy is game for whatever, but you can only shock the audience with how far you’re willing to go once and if the first half is waiting for the bomb to go off and discovering it’s dynamite, one can be forgiven for expecting the high explosives during the second slow burn, and thereby robbing them of some of their effect.

Full disclosure: I thought the ending of the second sequence had some of the best pure visual direction of the entire film, so it’s worth watching even if back to back slow burns seem self-defeating to this reviewer on a conceptual level.

This is Pierre Tsigaridis’ feature debut and I’m impressed with what he’s done on a tight budget here. Again, he doesn’t attempt the visual chromatic surrealism of the films he’s been influenced by but he displays a very strong understanding of why they worked in the first place– the juxtaposition of the mundane and the horrifying, and the helplessness and against amorphous, unstoppable terror.

There’s a lot to recommend in both his direction and this film even if it feels more like “first draft” than “first feature”.

3 out of 5 stars.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Maxime Rancon, Pierre Tsigaridis
Written by Kristina Klebe, Maxime Rancon, Pierre Tsigaridis 
Directed by Pierre Tsigaridis
Starring Rebekah Kennedy, Kristina Klebe, Belle Adams,
Tim Fox, Ian Michaels, Dina Silva, Danielle Kennedy 



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