Arrow Video: Two Witches (2021) - Reviewed

Courtesy of Arrow Films
In addition to unearthing obscure cult gems or restoring renowned classics rereleased in deluxe limited editions, Arrow Video has tended towards highlighting the efforts of unique first-time newcomers from around the world.  Rather than stay entrenched in the past, Arrow continues to introduce new independent or otherwise underground filmmakers whose works likely wouldn’t be seen or be made easily available.  Their latest limited-edition package comes in the form of Parisian writer-director Pierre Tsigaridis’ feature-film debut: the bilateral semi-anthological scare fest Two Witches.  While not necessarily a prime-rib cut, this colorful and atmospheric stab at indie-horror filmmaking does offer its own flavorful share of cutlets of a more bloody-gory kind.

Split cleanly in half narratively but sharing the same chronological space and timeline, this lean-mean spine-tingler zeroes in on two different women whose lives are intersected by what appear to be the actions of witchery.  In the first half, pregnant young mother Sarah (Belle Adams) is dining with her boorish unfeeling boyfriend Simon (Ian Michaels) when she gets the evil eye from a creepy old woman first inside the restaurant and then again outside.  Dismissing her fears, the couple convenes with their hip friends Dustin (Tim Fox) and Melissa (Dina Silva) who make the hairbrained mistake of screwing around with a Ouija board, further conjuring occult forces. 
In the meantime, the film crosscuts to graduate school student Rachel (Kristina Klebe) frustratedly contending with her troubled sex-kitten roommate Masha (Rebekah Kennedy) who claims she’s set to inherit supernatural powers from her witch grandmother currently on her deathbed.  Eventually the flaky Masha visits Rachel’s workplace and decides to steal Rachel’s personal stories of an abusive former relationship and pass it off as her own, sowing further division as what seems to be a form of demonic possession taking hold of Masha.  Though divided nearly in half replete with title cards designating each chapter, in time these two disparate plot threads and co-existing characters will invariably cross paths in a grisly battle to the end.

Shooting, editing and scoring much of it himself with the help of Gioacchino Marincola, Pierre Tsigaridis puts himself out front and center as a new voice in horror to keep your eyes on.  Co-written by Maxime Rancon and fellow co-star Kristina Klebe, this homegrown joint family effort represents a taut shoestring debut with reliance on practical makeup effects rather than succumbing to the shortcomings of CGI rendering.  Operating a bit like a one man band, Pierre Tsigaridis’ debut shows a startling amount of confidence, pushing ahead with potential sequels that may or may not happen while giving his own unique spin on the tried but true witch horror subgenre.
Shot and edited in 2.35:1 on the Arri Alexa, Tsigaridis shows an astute hand for handling the camera while making the most of the limited budgetary means, also channeling a subtle re-rendering of Dominic Harlan’s Grey Clouds from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut peppered throughout the otherwise electronica soundscape.  Performance wise the ensemble cast of newcomers is mostly fine with Belle Adams making her pregnant mother vulnerable and afraid while Rebekah Kennedy finds her inner succubus as we see the evolution of characters like Tim Fox’s Dustin starting out as an idiot forced by the situation to rise to the occasion. 

Though nothing spectacular, horror aficionados will be suitably entertained by this first-time one-man wonderment stoking horror elements of the past while looking ahead to the future.  Though not nearly as strong as some of the other occult cinematic newborns (Jill Gevargizian’s debut The Stylist being a vastly superior comparison), Two Witches is a good way to kill two hours as a horror fan and Arrow Video have assembled a most handsome looking limited package for such an unknown title.  Yes some fans may gripe the efforts of Arrow could’ve been spent on furthering their archaeological dig through the land of cult cinema but Two Witches is a nice little frightener well worth sharing in the company of other like-minded boutique releases tailored towards new release movies we’d likely not know of otherwise. 

--Andrew Kotwicki