As any genre aficionado will attest, there’s something rather magical about finding a great low budget horror film. Whilst there’s a tendency towards gore nowadays, in the ‘60s and ‘70s the likes of Roger Corman and Italian exploitation cinema garnered a reputation for producing overly camp or hammy pictures. These films still have a cult following today. In Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, she pays homage to the past whilst instilling a very modern sensibility into the story.
Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is a witch. A love witch. She’s a young woman in a new town who uses magic to create potions which make men fall in love with her. Unfortunately, her spells have a habit of working too well; leaving Elaine with no option but take extreme measures when they rapidly fall below her standards. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, a handsome police officer (Gian Keys) investigating the disappearance of one of her ‘disappointments’, her desperation drives her to the brink of insanity.
The Love Witch is very much Biller’s baby, she’s also responsible for writing, editing, production design, music and costume design. It’s a play on the femme fatale motif and a pastiche of low budget horror. It’s beautifully realised, with sumptuous varicoloured sets and costumes. There’s some brilliantly knowing overacting and a plethora great gags. Samantha Robinson is perfect for the role, inhabiting a place somewhere between Bewitched and ‘70s sexploitation. The Love Witch is, on the surface, a charming tribute to cheesy ‘70s genre flicks but deep-down has a solid beating feminist heart which will pull you fall under its spell.
The Love Witch is out in cinemas and VoD from Friday. It’s released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday