Review: The Love Witch (Fantasia 2016)

The Love Witch, showing at the Fantasia Film Festival, is a blatant tribute to the Technicolor films of the 60’s and 70’s, filmed in gorgeous 35mm. The film overcomes its overlong running time (120 minutes) with a great performance by its lead, Samantha Robinson, and excellent color usage and set design.

The plot follows our Love Witch, Elaine, as she attempts to meet and control her warped idea of the perfect man- after a betrayal by her former husband resulted in foul play. We get audio flashbacks showing verbal abuse towards our heroine by her father and Sleeping with the Enemy behavior from her ex husband. So all these bad occurances from the men in her life led her to seek solace and a new religion with a coven of witches. She soon moves to a new town, where her encounters with the male species usually lead to disaster.

As stated earlier, this film is gorgeous. The eye popping colors, the mod costumes all work to great effect. You will absolutely believe you are watching a film from the 60s or 70s. There is little, if anything, to identify the look of the film to the present. Instead we get all the key elements that exploitation films from that era are associated with. Stiff line readings, deliberately bad acting and over the top characters wearing bad suits with bad hairdos. All the great stuff to love about that period. Plus a lot of full frontal nudity from both males and females; although some unwanted, especially in the mass ritual scenes. If you are into a lot of hairy troll looking Sardu dudes showing their junk, you will dig this. The script elements where Elaine explains her desire for true love, and why she feels it is irresponsible of a woman to basically shut down in the relationship after getting a ring, is interesting and a refreshing outlook on male-female interaction for a change. I also liked the idea that the men are doomed due to Elaine basically making them feel too much.

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But at the end of the day this film does overstay its welcome with a way too long running time. There are too many scenes with the coven Elaine is involved in, which really go nowhere and serve no purpose. The Simon, King of the Witches dude, played by Jared Sanford, did nothing for me; although his girlfriend in the film was beautiful. We could have totally done without them in the film and kept the focus totally on Samantha Robinson, who is not only drop dead gorgeous, but gives a fantastic performance. This character should come back in future roles for this type of setting, but in an exploitation quickie- and this film mirrors that perfectly. I recommend you seek this film out for the production value, Samantha Robinson, and its absolute pitch perfect salute to a bygone era of exploitation.

2.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads

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