12th Sep2019

‘Wicked Witches’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Duncan Casey, Justin Marosa, Kitt Proudfoot, Samantha Schnitzler, Jasmin Clark | Written by Martin J Pickering, Mark Pickering | Directed by Martin J Pickering


Directed by Martin J Pickering (Stealing Moses) who also wrote the film along with his brother Mark Pickering, Wicked Witches (aka The Witches of Dumpling Farm) is a new horror movie about a guy named Mark who is kicked out of his house by his wife and ends up back at a place called Dumpling Farm where he’d spent many days partying it up during his youth. There, he runs into his old buddy Ian who may or may not be (but definitely is) possessed by a gaggle of evil witches. Mark wants to catch up with his old buddy and throw a party, all the while having nightmares and visions of blood and death and evil things occurring. Not really the best start to life in his new home. It’s a bad day at the farm for Mark as these creepy witches try their best to capture his soul.

I was drawn to the premise of Wicked Witches because, quite frankly, it sounded like it was something a little different for the modern era of horror. We don’t really see too many witch-horror flicks about. It isn’t a bad looking film, either, with some nice camera work at times and an atmosphere that builds fairly well once things get going. The script, however, is a big flaw. It’s just not very good, and there were a number of times where I questioned my own ability to keep going with this film. It must be said, also, that there’s a definite influence to be found here, from The Evil Dead movies and other horror classics, and that’s fine. Fair enough. I have no problem with a clear influence being seen when it comes to horror or any type of film, but it perhaps takes it to the point of feeling like it takes a bit too much from the films it attempts to maybe pay homage to.

The characters themselves are a touch on the typical side, they’re not the sort of characters with deep or complex personalities that we can root for or relate to. There’s a big problem with that, for me, especially when it comes to horror films. When there’s a premise in which characters are in danger of death or torture or even having their souls sucked from their bodies, we really do need to care about them, and we need to have reasons to feel some sort of sympathy towards the protagonists, and we need to feel apathy towards the evil ones, the antagonists, the villains. It was missing here, big-time sadly, and it ended up feeling flat and cliched. A film unable to really get running. I thought the acting was fine, it didn’t upset me, I just felt like the performers themselves could have done with a stronger plot and better scripts in order to shine in any manner. It sucks to say it, but it was hard to get through this.

I did notice that Wicked Witches, though only 80 minutes long, felt much longer. It dragged on way too much and it really shouldn’t have, especially with it being pretty short. I don’t get any pleasure out of struggling to like a film, but that was the case with this one, and it’s a shame. The practical effects and some of the props were okay, and there were some cool ideas to be found among the elements of the movie that were lacklustre and tedious. If the characters had been built better and the pacing of the story had been sorted out to an acceptable level, then perhaps this could have been an entertaining horror romp, but it fails on many levels. The horror itself is barely present, and though I thought a couple of visuals with the witches were creepy enough, I thought it once again fell short with the horror. It’s a horror film. Make it scary.

I so want to say that the final third of the movie is better than the preceding two-thirds, and I was entertained a bit more once things kicked into a higher gear. I like a slow-burn horror film, believe me I do, but when the plot and character development is emaciated and the horror is hard to find, it makes it much more difficult to enjoy what you’re watching. I wish we’d learned more about the witches, about why they do what they do, and given a reason to care about the people they want to destroy. It’s a haphazard film and one I was disappointed by, but I can’t say it’s entirely without its charms. I’m not sure I can recommend it, but hey… we all have our opinions and some folks might dig this much more than I did.

*½  1.5/5

Wicked Witches is out now in the US from Midnight Releasing.


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