From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“Witches don’t die before leaving their legacy.”
As plot summaries go, that one’s more than a bit ambiguous … but – as film viewings go – Two Witches capitalizes on much the same sentiment: it feels very much like a film-in-progress … very much like we haven’t quite seen the last of this cinematic universe … and that’s not always a good thing. It may not be bad, but for a first film? Well ...
The strength of building any screen franchise (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, or beyond) is that the first entry has to give the audience enough to want more. It has to both introduce this world and all of its uniqueness as well as leave the door open for increasing world-building. It should both stand on its own two feet but also suggest that this may not be enough to fully mine the potential of that original nugget of inspiration. True, a sequel could take the intellectual property in a whole new direction, but that film must stick close to the foundation of what brought viewers in originally or it’ll soon be forgotten, yet one more release chucked away onto the pile of forgotten dreams.
Now, that’s a lot to handle, but director Pierre Tsigaridis and his screenwriting partners of Kristina Klebe (who also stars) and Maxime Rancon appear to be up to the task in places throughout Two Witches. There’s plenty of story in here – it’s structured like a loosely-connected anthology of sorts – but, alas, it doesn’t always make perfect narrative sense.
Most of its shortcomings are owed to Tsigaridis’ visual techniques.
He weaves these various vignettes to and fro with scenes suggesting some even darker alternatives than what may or may not actually have transpired. We’re shown scenes hinting of a character’s obvious villainy, but apparently the characters sitting next to or across from or standing beside don’t see these dead-glazed eyes, fractured facial expressions, and other stock Horror tropes. Sadly, the film is filled with these – along with what might be a Guinness World Record Book attempt at jump scares – and their overabundance had me wondering if all of it weren’t an attempt to mock the way Horror films do this stuff instead of trying to draw me in to this web.
All of this isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate the director’s talents because nothing could be further from the truth. Two Witches is visually captivating. It’s constructed in such a deliberate way that it’s easy to see that there’s meaning in them there stares … but what that meaning could ultimately be kinda/sorta escapes me in retrospect. Either a bit of restraint or some greater specificity is required to have this series of interconnected stories make perfect sense … and maybe ‘perfect sense’ isn’t what he wanted after all.
Hello, Rebekah Kennedy, it’s time for your spotlight!
The feature’s greatest asset is an actress who appears to truly be enjoying herself in the role as one of the film’s singular witches, and I’ve no doubt Kennedy may’ve had the time of her life. (If not, she certainly fooled me.) In her hands, ‘Masha’ eerily becomes the wallflower we’ve all known and wished would come out of her shell as well as a screen menace quite possibly capable of bringing about an end to all things good and pure. She masterfully takes control of every scene – even those where she’s a supporting player – giving her work the kind of irresistible appeal required of any screen villain. If there is life after Two Witches – meaning a sequel – I’d have to give the lion’s share of that credit to her work in this. Yes, it’s just that good.
Still, as a whole, Two Witches is imperfect.
Crafted in many ways to be an homage to classic Horror films (with an awful lot of Giallo influence), it sadly makes about as much sense as most of those flicks as well … which is to say that, at times, it doesn’t. Is this a dream? Is that a vision? What exactly just happened … or did it not, and we’re experiencing just the storyteller’s visual trickery? While the cast and crew may’ve felt that the sense of ambiguity helped build the requisite tension, this reviewer was more than a bit befuddled with what felt like storytelling hiccups inserted for their high ‘coolness’ factor. Well, it’s great that your film looks great, but what’s it all about?
Two Witches (2021) was produced by Incubo Films and The Rancom Company. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated via the exceptional Arrow Films. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I did experience some minor issues with the disc’s audio track. Whatever the mix is required a lot of sound on the subwoofer channel, so I had to dial that way down. (I did adjust to an alternate supplied audio track which was better, but the volume levels were just too high for my tastes.) Lastly, as for the special features? This is Arrow Films, after all, and they’ve once again set the bar high: there are two audio commentaries, two short making-of featurettes, a handful of cast and crew interviews, image galleries, and a bit more. (The promotional materials also suggest a collector’s booklet, but I was provided only a screening disc so I can’t comment to the efficacy of that.) All-in-all, it’s a pretty good collection for fans of this sort of thing.
I think Two Witches is filled with – and clearly made with – the best of intentions. Director Tsigaridis and his merry band of men and women have assembled a legitimate O.G. Horror film that – like many of its obvious influences – might very well stand the test of time, grow a faithful following, and become a tentpole franchise all of its very own. As a standalone piece of work – which is how I approach every project I watch – it doesn’t quite work as well as I think it could’ve, toying more with the audience’s expectations and occasionally leaving reality in doubt. That may’ve been the intent here – the supplemental materials all suggest a sequel is currently in production – and I’m wondering if a follow-up might inevitably be the superior film. Too much of this one felt like set-up for something greater … and grander … especially given the post-credits scenes. So – if nothing else – stay tuned.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the film folks at Arrow Video provided me with a complimentary screener copy of Two Witches (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.