DIRECTOR Jason Bognacki WRITER Jason Bognacki STARS David Landry; Maria Olsen; Paulie Redding DVD 15 February
Beautiful to look at, with some stylised cinematography, a doe-eyed innocent in terror and a barrage of erotic imagery, Mark Of The Witch really, really wants to be a seventies Dario Argento film. An admirable ambition. But having the beautiful Paulie Redding wander around to an operatic soundtrack while odd things happen makes for a dull experience, and is far removed from the master that director-writer Jason Bognacki wishes to emulate. The best gialli feature intricate plotting and mystery along with their horror, but here is a case of style over substance; little happens, and even at a short 80 minutes it struggles to maintain interest.
Turning 18, Jordyn’s (Redding) life takes a turn for the worse; she starts experiencing blackouts, loss of time from which she wakes up in strange places, people claim to have seen her when they couldn’t have. Her fate has been determined by a dark history: witchcraft, from which she can never escape, is coming for her, in the form of dark spirits that are forever attached to her family. It’s a decent premise, but the problem is Bognacki fails to develop it into a full story.
Redding is good, and while it’s interesting to watch her fall to pieces, the film is achingly slow, with long scenes of dialogue that give an attempt to explain what’s going on. There’s nothing wrong with a slow build (The Duke Of Burgundy is a fine recent example), but it has to build to something. The final act is surreal, purposefully odd, and feels as if no one really knows how to finish this nonsense. It’s also crippled with cheap CGI that is so out of place it immediately pulls the viewer away from any suspense. Give Bognacki a decent script and one feels he might have the visual eye to produce something worthwhile. Mark Of The Witch is a failed experiment.