New Horror Releases: Wicked Witches (2019) - Reviewed

Originally called The Witches of Dumpling Farm, the film should be called ‘Wicked Bitches’, because these humanoid velociraptors are far from the egregious beguilers of wit and soul we know to be witches, right down to the wrong depiction of a pentagram alongside the film’s Satanic fodder. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Wicked Witches is set in the UK, which, one would assume, would give it a more archaic and authentic feel. The plot relates the fate of cheater Mark (Duncan Casey), thrown out by his wife, who looks for a place to stay and finds shelter at an old farm. The farm, belonging to his friend, Ian Pickering (Justin Marosa), used to be the party place for Mark, Ian and their friends back in the day. 
Now, having returned, Mark finds that Ian is not quite himself, but the man’s odd behavior is quickly excused when he brings a group of deliciously seductive girls to the soiree – a grim prospect for the party boys, as you may surmise.

Written and directed by the Pickering Brothers, Wicked Witches apparently tries to imitate the classic Hammer Films, but regrettably falls flat into nothing more than a slutty gore-fest with no real story to justify main character Mark’s fate. Being a huge Hammer Film enthusiast, I can attest to Wicked Witches failing the most important point in any scary horror film – establishing atmosphere to evoke apprehension and a good twist on why it all happens.

While we get to know Mark and his predicament, there is no ominous portent, only Casey’s inability to portray Mark as little more than a bland and uninteresting individual. Perhaps this was done deliberately to contradict the mayhem that comes later, but Mark just feels like someone you want to see suffer. Not the purpose of an attractive protagonist.

What the Pickering Brothers excel at, though, is technical prowess. The camera work is interesting and professionally done. The editing is on point and the make-up and sound effects are excellent. For those of us sick to death of CGI, this is a strong point and Wicked Witches do a great job to make the pretty girls look demonic. However, this latter point is what would vex anyone expecting a good old witch blight – the women are unconvincing as menacing and their nature is full-blown demonic. I am only mentioning this for us true Satanist, witchcraft junkies not to be mislead by the title.

Wicked Witches is a messy attempt at occult fright, but lacks proper research that leaves it inauthentic and clumsy where it could have been really terrifying. The director toggles between great sets with eerie lighting and utterly unimaginative, overly long sequences, proving that the Pickering Brothers have a lot of potential, but hold back. 

The film’s nightmare scenes are brilliant and spine-chilling and it makes me wish that Martin Pickering would have just grabbed it by the balls and filmed the whole thing with that intensity. I never thought I would penalize a film for lack of sexual aggression or nudity, but Wicked Witches had the perfect excuse for truthful and accurate depictions and wasted it on badly acted suggestion.

The weak plots are inconclusive which gives the film a pointless attribute, which is unfortunate, but it is still worth watching if you want a bit of bloody slaughter and demonic screeching on your screen.

Wicked Witches is tame and careful when it comes to the very parts that should be unapologetically diabolical and wicked. If you are doing so well with certain scenes, I say go all out! Over all, it is a terrific mix of good effects and great nightmares you might want to explore.

Wicked Witches is out on August 9, 2019. 

-Tasha Danzig