Witches are an amazing thing. They exist pretty much all over the world in myths and fairy tales in one form or the other. They are usually closely bound to nature and represent its healing and destroying powers. They are desired when people can’t seem to help themselves with what current science has to offer and they are feared (and blamed) whenever things go wrong. And boy oh boy, can they wreak havoc. I love witches. From the Russian Babajaga in her lovely house on a rooster’s foot to that gnarly old broad in her cookie house luring kids in for a nice BBQ.
They also make for some amazing movie villains because they are so carnal and dark, earthy and cruel if they need be. They can be everything and nothing. Yes, there’s loads of awful trash movies with witches but those movies that get them wrong are pretty fantastic.
So, let’s go!
The Witch (2015)
Look, I hardly understand what the protagonist’s are talking about half of the time due to the historical accuracy of their dialects but this movie is one hellride of creating an atmosphere that sits heavy in your stomach the entire time, like waking up in the middle of the night, not knowing why but feeling that there is something off. It’s absolutely gorgeous, disgusting and really disturbing. It’s also one of those movies that I wouldn’t recommend to casual horror fans because there are some “can’t be unseen”-scenes. But boy oh boy, if there ever was someone doubting that witches are scary – what a fool.
Blair Witch Project (1999)
Hey, you didn’t think I would leave our beloved Blair Witch out, now did you? I also wonder whether by now, this movie might be something to discover anew for younger generations since it’s been ages since it came out. And I wonder whether it packs a punch for these generations because it is quite low on the cool effects-scale and instead works a lot with rattling your imagination.
Gretel & Hänsel (2020)
This artsy horror movie is absolutely gorgeous and does a great job in mixing modern imagery with the folksy earthen terror of being poor and lost in the woods. Galo Olivares did the cinematography and Oz Perkins directed, who is kinda known for gorgeous, brooding horror movies with a kick (also, he’s working on “Head full of Ghosts”, a favorite novel of mine so I can’t wait to see what he turns it into).
Alice Krige is an absolute delight and the story itself has this beautiful surreal air to it, like a modern sequel to “The Company of Wolves” but without the anthology-aspect.
In this version of the Grimm folk tale, it’s not Hänsel but Gretel who gets tied up deeper and deeper in the witches’ spell (which – I guess – is the reason why the title switches their names). It might be a smidge “style over substance” and that voice-over tends to break the mood a little bit but since the movie nevertheless offers some tantalising images and has a great, tense atmosphere, I’ll allow it.
The Wretched (2020)
Whatever you think this movie will be when you see the first 10 minutes, I can assure you, it will be wrong. This movie is absolutely genius, hiding a truly disturbing, terrifying concept (with some big scares) under the guise of your suburbian “weird neighbour” horror plot. It’s probably one of the very few big horror surprises for me this year and has all the witch horror you need.
Also, if you want witchy songs, here’s a fun playlist for them.
And you’ll find more horror movie lists here.