New Horror Releases: Hexing (2019) - Reviewed

Directed by Christophe Lenoir, known for Cellule 66 (2008) and Focus: A Gate is Now Opened (2018), Hexing is a story of redemption through trials presented by an evil force caught in an antique trinket and is set in a small town in Ireland. That is the short version and considerably more simple than the construct of the film.

Hexing tries to say too many things with too little command and the entire film is a mess of stories and characters trying to fill a puzzle that got its pieces from several random boxes. It is clumsy, at best. However, for those who have the zeal to watch it more than once, it might make sense from a writing perspective. Hexing was written by two writers, but I wonder if they knew of one another.

The film starts with a young woman going to see an antique dealer, aptly called Madame Estelle, in Paris in hopes of becoming the antique dealer’s assistant. While waiting, she finds a mysterious board (of course) and Madame Estelle invites her to listen to a story of how the board came to her shop. Sounds intriguing, but then the writers start weaving a Gordian Knot of characters and circumstances that fall about the timeline like spilled rice.

Madame Estelle tells of Hannah (Emma Eliza Regan), a sad young woman who lives with her father in Ireland. The two do not get along, because of a past transgression of Hannah’s father. She works at a coffee shop with her friends Alice (Dominique Swain) and Joe (Adam Weafer), with a womanizing malefactor as their boss. There is also a crooked cop with a rapist attitude that hovers, but as with the rest of the establishing scenes, no reason is introduced for anything.

The influx of characters pile on in unbearably long scenes that amount to nothing – Alice gets slammed in the kitchen of the coffee shop by a supposedly hot boyfriend, while Joe pines for her. Hannah is already insignificant for a lead role and the slow pace of the film makes you scream for explanations. It appears that Hexing confuses omission for mystery throughout.

Once the friends finally and unknowingly discover and claim an occult device from the local antique shop, the formula dribble ensues. Calling the spirit board ‘yantra’ does not change the obligatory Ouija scene that – you guessed it – releases an ominous force. As you might surmise, Hexing trudges through the mandatory death-by-possession scenes while the bland Hannah teeters between teenage bitch and weak waif mannerisms.

Although the acting is drab and unconvincing (apart from the despicable police officer, well played by Conor Marren), the actual idea is very interesting and I blame bad writing for the terrible loss of what could have been a solid and relatively fresh story.

Basing a story on an Indian occult premise, the Sri Yantra, the backstory is left dreadfully unexplored and it would have redeemed the whole film if it had not been reduced to a short flashback. The idea of a man who died doing a friend a favor and thus pursued friendship beyond death by channeling his evil powers to ‘help’, is a lovely basis for a good, eerie movie.
Unfortunately, the director did not pay attention to the story’s only original part. Not surprising, as he did not bother to correct the unbelievable background reaction acting during some of the more intense scenes that would have made Hexing far more terrifying – or terrifying at all.

Good idea – bad execution. Because of the scattered facts and careless ties in scenes that leave Hexing an awkward mess, the writing unfortunately sinks this ship. At least the cinematography is beautiful and the camera work is on par to usher viewers into the settings, but as a whole, Hexing is a pallid painting of what could have been extraordinary.

-Tasha Danzig