Director: Jason Bognacki
Script: Jason Bognacki
Cast: David Landry, Maria Olsen, Lillian Pennypacker, Paulie Redding, Michael St Michaels, Nancy Wolfe, Paulie Rojas, Michael Rappaport
Running time: 76 minutes
On her eighteenth birthday Jordyn is with family and friends celebrating her big day when her mum’s sister makes a scene at her ‘party’ and stabs herself with the cake knife. As she does this she indicates that all is not well with the ‘coming of age’ birthday girl…
On her way out of the hospital, after visiting her clearly nuts aunt, Jordyn is watched by a sinister-looking crow (aren’t they all?) and, on the subway system, she is also observed by a mysterious hooded figure. The same hooded figure later turns up at her work, but disappears, after first scratching her on the forearm.
Later, when standing in front of a mirror, she sees what appears to be a strange woman’s face looking back at her – while on the other side of the mirror a witch (possibly) observes Jordyn by using a scrying glass.
In another scene Jordyn appears to be sleep walking and is attacked by a man and seems to be raped in the shop that she works in, but she turns the tables on her attacker who she then manages to kill, or does she?
Weird things happen on a more regular basis and soon the audience is as confused as our main protagonist as to whether or not Jordyn is the Devil’s daughter that her aunt reckons she is or if she is just becoming as deluded as her crazy relative?
Okay, so what are the positive points about this film? Well, there’s some cool imagery in it, and some of the acting is decent. There are moments that are quite creepy which, this being a horror flick, is a good thing. The music, which seems to be a combination of random sounds and synthesisers, often enhances the equally off-the-wall visuals. Additionally, the film features lots of fine classical music by the likes of Beethoven, Puccini, Handel and Chopin. Mark of the Witch is also fairly short, which was a blessed relief to this reviewer!
Unfortunately, Mark of the Witch is a very slow-going, often pretentious, art-house horror film and, while I admired some of its dream-like feel, I also hated the fact that the filmmakers had decided it was a great idea to play out most scenes in slow-motion. While I could see that this enhanced a few shots, it certainly failed to achieve anything positive for the vast majority of the time that it was used, rendering most of the film eye-itchingly irritating to observe… There’s also lots of blurry shots (intentional, I think), that further hinders one’s comprehension of what the heck is going on.
I think director Bognacki was going for a sort of expressionistic, Dario Argento’s Inferno sort of vibe to his film, but it all turns out to be rather messy and unengaging. There’s lots of emphasis on shadows and light, and lurid colours, and the lead actress has very big, expressive eyes, which, to me, were reminiscent of Barbara Steele’s at times. However, all the annoying editing tricks, including my favourite (not!) Avid-farts, really grate after a while and I couldn’t help but feel that this would have made a decent short horror film, rather than the overly stretched out, (like a mutated rat), feature film that we have here…
Best bit: The flashback of Jordyn’s mother giving birth to her through her mouth was quite memorable.
Worst bit: The rest of the film, padded out to feature-length. Even the end credits are an unnecessary nine minutes in length!
Metrodome are distributing Mark of the Witch on DVD. There were no extras.