MARK OF THE WITCH (2014)
Written and Directed by Jason Bognacki
After being rescued from a cult as a baby, Jordyn celebrates her 18th birthday with adoptive mum Aunt Ruth and her two best friends. Her coming-of-age marks the start of unusual experiences, things she cannot explain and the feeling that she’s not in control of her life. Little does she know that the wish she made when blowing out the final candle on her birthday cake would come true. Some things are better left unknown…
Horror MARK OF THE WITCH, also known as Another, focuses on a young woman who’s birth appears to be the result of satanic ritual. Finally becoming a woman, her birthday marks the beginning of a long line of tradition for her family, something which is near impossible to escape. Will Jordyn have the strength and guts to change her fate?
The film starts off very dream-like before Jordyn celebrates her 18th birthday, flashing back to the days of her birth. Her 18th birthday celebration itself, however, is what you’d come to expect from a movie and plays out in very much a standard fashion until Jordyn’s guardian Ruth seems to slip into her own alternative reality. Doing her very best Bruce Buffer impersonation shouting “It’s Time!” almost gives me the impression that I’m going to be treated to a UFC fight right there and then in the dining room. Unfortunately, this far-out reaction from Ruth kick-starts a warped view of the world for both Jordyn and the viewer as she finally meets her destiny.
MARK OF THE WITCH, from this moment onwards, feels foreign, not only in style but in its incoherence like it’s from another planet. I can only describe the experience as disorientated and how I would imagine the world would look like if you were stumbling around drunk or drugged up 24/7. The footage is fragmented as Jordyn wakes up in places she doesn’t recognise with broken memories she’s not sure are even hers. Whilst this aids the story somewhat, as little a narrative as there is, it makes for a grueling time watching the movie and I couldn’t help clock-watching waiting for the uncomfortable awkwardness to end.
MARK OF THE WITCH is very much style over substance. It has very little to say and when the film focuses on its supernatural element, it prefers to add visual effects and flares, some of which are cheesy and contradict the whole arty style it seems to be going for.
I took no enjoyment from this movie whatsoever and instead found it a chore to watch. I wish the film hadn’t sacrificed the story in favour of its style which is certainly an acquired taste as Time Out and Daily Record seem to shower the movie with praise. I struggled to connect with the characters, even lead Jordyn, whilst Nancy Wolfe (Ruth) and Maria Olsen seem to be the strongest links of film, oozing mystery and menace.
If you like arthouse movies, MARK OF THE WITCH might be up your street but the lack of a solid story, and even dialogue for that matter, leaves an unpleasant taste in this reviewer’s mouth.