P U R D I E’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a young child I was the 'Go-To' guy for horror. I'd seen it all, I thought, and I had no qualms about sharing this stuff around.
However, after a while I developed a reputation for destroying childhood's and parent's would eventually ban their kids from visiting my home or borrowing movies from me. I took this as a badge of honour.
I was invited round to a friend's home for dinner one day, and in an effort to entertain me, they rented out Superstition (or The Witch, as this copy was called) and although I didn't admit it to them at the time - I was utterly scared shitless by this movie.
As the years moved on, I forgot about what actually happened in the film, but certain actions and images stayed with me and although I searched for it, I could never quite find the movie I remembered. Recently though, a fellow Letterboxd'er pointed me in the right direction and told me that it was better known as Superstition. I sat down last night, 2am, lights down, half bottle of wine down the hatch and got ready to re-live my nightmares.
So, did it live up to my memories?
Kinda yes, kinda no.
First things first, this movie is a hysterical mess. From the opening scenes it's ridiculously jumpy and over the top. No matter how cheap looking or poorly edited the film is, it was still loaded with dozens of decent jump scares which always makes for a fun watch. And as the tension builds (and boy does it build) it becomes more over the top until the scares are literally tripping over themselves. It's a case of, 'lets throw everything at the wall and see what sticks' and despite almost everything falling off the wall, I was surprised at just how many things were holding up - and they were all the things I rememberd as a child.
Namely, the evilness of the damn thing. The Witch in film is a massive bastard who will literally kill anyone, even children, without a hint of remorse. Even the film doesn't lend a single character the sympathy vote - these kills are fast, brutal and utterly devoid of mercy. It feels silly to say, but most horror movies will have some glisten of hope attached. Something at the end of the void, just out of reach so that we know we're getting out of this in one piece.
Superstition has none of that. And it was genuinely shocking and pretty damn scary once you realise how powerless everyone is against this impossibly sadistic evil.
Also, the design of the witch is really effective. You rarely see more than glimpses of her arms, usually as they shoot out of the darkness to tear somebody's face off, but the make-up FX make them look more monstrous than human, reminicent of Argento's Suspiria which is no bad thing at all. It's a little frustrating that you never clearly see the witch, but by the end I was so damn scared of her that I realised it was probably for the best.
Finally, the thing I loved about this movie was the kills. They're INSANE. Completely illogical and make no sense. Superstition doesn't hold back on the gore and at least four of these kills are genuine crowd-pleasers. Special nod must also be given to the finale - the tension has built quite slowly for the previous hour, despite the number of kills, but the last 20-30 minutes, this movie goes nuts with a kill count of about 1 person per 3 minutes. That's a ratio I can get behind and it was hard not to get caught up in it's frenzied pacing, which is why I probably let it scare me so much as a child.
Reading this back now, I relaise it reads like a fucking masterpiece, but it's really not. Not even close. There's so much wrong in Superstition I don't even know where to start. I guess the main issue is regarding the characters and their motivations. Considering the things that go on in this movie, and the nature in which they've been happening, it just doesn't add up that this family would move in. I mean, two people have been murdered just prior to them arriving (no secret to them either) and three people die within the first couple of hours of them moving in furnature. They're aware of these kills, but stay anyway.
In short - these people are idiots.
They're also a pretty unlikable bunch. You have two bitchy daughters. One idiot, pre-football jock son. A vacant behind the eyes Mother. But a special mention must go to the recovering alcoholic Dad - a man so useless he takes about five minutes to check out why his wife is screaming for her life downstairs.
And they're not even the main focus of the film. The hero of the movie is a preist, who spends more time leering at the two daughters than he does trying to solve the mystery.
Everybody in this film deserves to die. And they do. Applause.
By the time the movie rolled around to it's utterly bleak conclusion, I took a deep breath and laughed out loud. Did this movie scare me like it did as a child? Not really, but it was scarier than I imagined it would be. Better than that though, I felt like I'd been on a rollercoaster, completely exhillarated and spent.
Some bits were good. Some bits were really bad. The kills were laid on thick and bits of it were genuinely scary.
I had a good time with Superstition.