The Witch Files follows a group of teenage girls who met in detention. The young ladies bond over the power of the supernatural. But they soon learn that their actions have consequences and magic is never to be trifled with.
I was really stoked to check The Witch Files out. A new film about high school witches from the director of Night of the Living Deb. What’s not to like? Well, unfortunately, fans of Kyle Rankin’s previous directorial outing may be left feeling a bit underwhelmed. The Witch Files isn’t necessarily a bad movie. It just leaves a lot to be desired.
One of my biggest complaints is that there is a lot of annoying banter in the film that (while sometimes amusing) feels inauthentic and is not really representative of the way people (especially high school students) talk. This is, perhaps, not helped by the fact that all of the performances are a little hammy.
The characters in the film are fairly one-dimensional. All stereotypes are present. You have the smart one, the funny one, the jock, the pretty, privileged one, and the goth-y loner. They are all reasonably likable but no one is dynamic enough to command any real sense of audience investment.
There’s also the decision to tell the story via first person POV. The camerawork is too good to have been captured by a group of high school students and the found footage narrative method isn’t crucial to the story. So, why not just use the good old cinematic approach? There are also sequences included in the final cut of the footage (particularly towards the end) where it’s a stretch to justify why the footage is being filmed.
There are a lot of elements that feel like they were ripped straight from The Craft. I suspect that the intent was to pay homage. But, without The Witch Files having a strong sense of identity, it comes across more like imitation. There is a light as a feather stiff as a board scene that is even complete with someone walking in during the ritual. And there’s also a Nancy-inspired character who lets getting everything she ever dreamed of go to her head.
One of the problems with The Witch Files being a bit of a Craft clone is that it doesn’t have teeth. It’s not scary; there’s nearly no onscreen violence. There’s barely even any bad language. The Witch Files very much feels like something that would air as a movie of the week on Freeform. And, I think it would be right at home there. However, for the adult horror fan, this outing leaves a lot to be desired. It feels as though it can’t make up its mind whether it’s a tween movie of the week or a legitimate horror outing.
This is the kind of feature you might show your younger sister if you were trying to get her interested in the horror genre. And it would probably do the trick. However, it’s not the kind of film you need to rush out and watch. Perhaps wait for it to hit your favorite streaming content provider and then give it a look if you’re in the market for something utterly inoffensive and mindless. You could certainly do much worse but you could also do a lot better.
The Witch Files is now on DVD from Dark Sky Films. The home video release bonus content includes a commentary track and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Kyle Rankin
Writer(s): Larry Blamire, Kyle Rankin
Stars: Holly Taylor, Britt Flatmo, Tara Robinson, Tayla Fernandez, Alice Ziolkoski, Paget Brewster
Release: October 9, 2018 (DVD)
Studio/ Production Co: Dark Sky Films