Short film ‘Witchwise’ deserves a feature film treatement
Reviewing short films isn’t always easy. Not because of anything in terms of quality, although that can sometimes be a factor, but it’s how much you can say. Some short films are so simple there isn’t much I can offer in terms of my thoughts that would span more than a paragraph or two.
That was a challenge I had with Witchwise. Written and directed by Joe Harris, who served as the writer for the horror flick, Darkness Falls, it’s a 13-minute tale about a young boy, Andrew, and his mysterious aunt.
As it begins, Andrew’s aunt has died, and he is at the wake. Looking over her corpse in the coffin, he remembers back to when his aunt passed away. During the flashback we learn that the boy may have had a hand in his aunt’s death, and it may have concerned a bizarre ring.
My first thought upon the film’s conclusion, honestly, was: is that it? This as a very brief film with little to no dialogue, that seemed to leave more questions than answers. What explanation there is only leaves the audience to put pieces together on their own. And I kind of liked that. At the same time, I felt the concept could easily have been explored in more depth and expanded into a feature film.
Harris makes some interesting choices here. He doesn’t show you everything. The aunt is shot largely from the back or in angles that conceal her face. The parents, too, are not seen directly. That said, Witchwise is far from perfect. There are some moments that betray the film’s low budget. But when it works, which is most of the time, Witchwise is an interesting 13 minutes.
Spencer Daniels, the central character and the only one you really see, does a fine job. The simple visual effects with the ring were great. And the story does have enough meat to leave you looking for more. That often enough can make a short film enjoyable, when you’re left wondering what it was all about, and piece together ideas in your own mind. For example, was the aunt a good witch, or a bad one? Was Andrew actually the bad guy here? If Harris were to develop this concept into a larger film, I know I’d be happy to see the outcome.