Witches of Blackwood
by Christie Robb
It’s never a good sign when you head back to your hometown and all your old school friends sidle up to you and want to get you alone to give you an elevator pitch about this new thing they’ve gotten into.
Nine times out of ten it’s an MLM selling makeup or essential oils or nutritional supplements.
Sometimes it’s a cult.
In Kate Whitbread’s new film, the townful of anemic-looking women sporting clothing made of natural fibers in a neutral color palette and the dark undereye circles of recent motherhood are selling witchcraft.
Claire Nash (Cassandra Magrath from Wolf Creek) is back in town to uncover the circumstances of her dad’s recent sudden death and that of her mother years before. Were their deaths a consequence of mental illness and substance abuse? Or was it really the demon that haunts the forest? And are they really even dead? Why are all these townswomen carrying around bleached bones and acting like they are infants? And why are they all interested in Claire?
Magrath works hard to bring her character to life, but the script isn’t doing her any favors. The movie is full of evocative settings and creepy imagery, but there’s not much time spent in character development and no real sense of the stakes. Plot elements are introduced and then dropped. Characters that appear to be important basically wander off and an antagonist…doesn’t seem to actually do anything.
So, when the climax comes, it feels hollow and meaningless–very much an “is that it?” kind of moment.
The Witches of Blackwood is not a good movie and it’s not quite bad enough to be fun.