BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Director/writer/producer/editor Anna Biller (Viva) has put together a marvelous horror film of psychodrama and seduction. Full of "mod" Technicolor fetishes caught within its bold and colorful print shift dresses, The Love Witch is intoxicatingly refreshing for the genre and will definitely have audiences coming back for more.
Biller’s new film is a feminist horror film that manages to be both hyper-realized and constructive in its examination of the true cost of marbled patriarchy as one woman does anything for love, including kill, kill, and kill again once disappointed. Russ Meyer, eat your heart out!
Biller is answering the call of the "strong woman" and shoving man’s sense of entitlement right up his ass with The Love Witch. The problem is that most men will probably be too stupid to recognize what is happening until it is too late. The wickedly subversive film also features a breakout performance from newcomer Samantha Robinson, who simply nails her performance as the sun-kissed serial killer at the dead center of the story’s pounding heart; if she doesn't pull this off, nothing else about the film works. Thankfully, she kills it.
The Love Witch, with its comprehensive ode to 1960s and 1970s era set and lighting design (thanks to Biller’s impressive work behind the scenes), is easily one of the most strikingly fashioned films of the year. It is also completely unforgettable. Announcing itself and its protagonist with matching cherry-red details (in sports car, in dress, in lipstick, etc.) there is no bolder of a cinematic proclamation issued by a film this year than with the arrival of the film’s central character, femme fatale Elaine.
You see, Elaine is a modern-day witch. And she is on the hunt for true love. Of course, her journey from San Francisco has her slumming in all the wrong places along the coast, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s ill equipped for the journey. Armed with all sorts of spells, the movie opens with her driving along the coast; her mind is on other things of which only we are privy to.
On the way to her new coastal town destiny, she is pulled over by a cop (Gian Keys) and her charms (thanks to the acting skill and the beauty of Robinson) are quickly on display. Brown-eyes are batted. Cheeks are flushed. And on we go to the next rendezvous. From one man to the next, Elaine morphs her own true nature with the supernatural to become something else for the men in her life … and death is not too far behind.
This is a film with texture; it is also a film with genuine substance. Biller – pissed by some of the reactions to her first film – has created something a bit more digestible with The Love Witch. While she still does many, many things behind the camera – this is DIY filmmaking, of course – her vision of Elaine’s world is a creation of constant charisma that puts her shoulder to shoulder with Wes Anderson. You will NOT forget this film.
The Love Witch might be a movie filled with dollhouse-like beaus and beauties, but the realness of the gender roles that play out on the screen – and, trust me, everything in The Love Witch is insanely real – never once ceases to be anything less than disturbing. The film, to me, is a quick two hours. In her role as the writer, the director, and the editor, Biller wants us to see everything – every ounce of the satanic and witchy rituals included – and that attention to prolonged details is also present in the amount of bric-a-brac filling each and every room. Amazing comes to mind.
Robinson’s keyed-in narration and performance – deadpan and full of biting depth – tells us everything we need to know about her character. The production from Biller – full of countless details and throwback nods to Technicolor melodramas of yesteryear and 1970s sexploitation flicks – means that, in order to completely “see” the film, we have to be (and should be) well versed in the language of cinema as it explores identity.
The Love Witch succeeds as a horror film on many, many levels. It is both hair-raising and frightfully chilling as drives (in a red hot sports car no less) headfirst through female fantasy in its concluding statement on feminism and compulsive narcissism (especially in the age of Trump). Let’s hope we don’t have to wait ten bastard years to see Biller directing Robinson again.
The Love Witch is as wicked and as delightful as it sounds.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 120 mins
Director: Anna Biller
Writer: Anna Biller
Cast: Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Laura Waddell
Tagline: Sh eloved men... to death
Memorable Movie Quote: "Tampons aren't gross. Women bleed and that's a beautiful thing. Do you know that most men have never even seen a used tampon?"
Theatrical Distributor: Oscilloscope
Official Site: http://www.lifeofastar.com/
Release Date: November 11, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: march 14, 2017
Synopsis: Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, leaving her with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder..
Home Video Distributor: Oscilloscope Pictures
Available on Blu-ray - March 14, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
Holy hell, is this ever a tasty-looking film from Oscilloscope Laboratories. The color and the saturation throughout the 1080p presentation of The Love Witch is vivid and unyielding. Framed in a traditional 1.85:1 ratio, the MPEG-4 AVC video never disappoints; even the casual viewer will surely be impressed with the image quality. While mostly a day shoot, black levels are strong and thick lines bracket all details. There is crispness to the image throughout the film that is seldom seen today; a texture that can’t be denied. The sound is fabulous in its DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 track and works together with the incredible soundtrack to produce a lasting impression of sound and vision.
Thankfully, there is a good commentary about the movie provided by director Anna Biller, cinematographer M. David Mullen, star Samantha Robinson, and actor/producer Jared Sanford. You won’t be disappointed.
There are several things included here. Biller has confessed that she could have easily made the film 3 hours long. This is made clear by the amount of supplemental items on display. The extended and deleted scenes are dynamic, featuring different versions of the scenes in the movie with plenty of bonus looks thrown in. The interviews are good ones, too, as the information they cover the commentary does not repeat. Overall, this is a damn good release from Oscilloscope Laboratories, distributors of the best in American independent, foreign, and documentary films.
- Behind the Scenes with Anne Biller (11 min)
- Interview with cinematographer M. David Mullen (11 min)
- 2 Deleted, 2 Alternate Cuts and 8 Extended Scenes
- Samantha Robinson Dance Audition (3 min)
- Unreleased Trailer (2 min)
- Theatrical trailer (3 min)
- Original Theatrical trailer