Pierre Tsigaridis’ feature length debut is fun foray into Folk Horror
My favorite genre explorations of witchcraft are the ones that attempt to do something a bit different with the age old myth. You get just that with Two Witches, the feature length debut by Pierre Tsigaridis, a French cinematographer turned director. The film is a slow burn episodic take on two generations of witches that torment a small group of friends. Broken up into chapters the first one looks at a young pregnant woman who believes she was struck with the evil eye and begins to unravel while spending some time with her significant other’s hipster friends who definitely have a vested interest in the occult. Her story is deliberately paced and lays the groundwork before it climaxes in an incident that paves the way for the next story.
The next story moves a bit more brisk and follows Masha (Rebekah Kennedy) a troubled young woman who looks like the Hot Topic witch archetype you’d expect, who is about to inherit her mother’s gift. In this film, a witch’s power is passed down from mother to daughter, and while the first story deals with Masha’s mother, the second story tackles the terrifying prospect of what happens when someone who is powerless, is suddenly given unlimited power. This has her going on a spree attacking and killing those who she believed wronged her to get the love she never had. It’s very messy and thanks to Rebekah Kennedy’s sympathetic performance, the rage that fuels her attacks is palpable and almost understandable. It’s Masha’s thread that closes the loop as the film finishes with her attempting to crash her roommate’s holiday with her mother.
The film looks lush and definitely makes some big swings, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Where the film doesn’t falter in its mythology, which I found fascinating as it forged its world and its rules before us. Where the film falters is it did a lot of things with faces and looks as a sort of magical trance, and sometimes it was really effective, and sometimes the camera would just linger a few milliseconds too long. That’s a minor nitpick for a film that I found worked relatively well and accomplished exactly what it set out to do. The actors here also are on 100% which definitely helps keeping some of those moment from becoming unintentionally funny, since it’s all played straight.
Two Witches is an enjoyable watch that delivers the scares along with an interesting mythology to boot. We don’t really see enough films dig into the Evil Eye, which once upon a time was a thing feared by folks. Rebekah Kennedy’s performance however, is what really elevates the narrative and invests you in the story after being relegated to the periphera for the first act. Her turn which is equal parts tragic and terrifying tears at the audience’s empathy as she goes on her rampage. When Two Witches works, it works really well, when it stumbles it still manages to keep you engaged to see what it comes up with next. The film was just released on Blu-ray by Arrow and is currently streaming on various services.