Monday, September 25, 2017

Revisiting the Past in Ghost Witch: A Film Review

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Director: Joseph Lavender.

Writers: Joseph Lavender and Jarrod Musselwhite.

Cast: Chase Steven Anderson, Mandi Christine Kerr and Josh Sinyard.

Something slightly old is new again. Here, Ghost Witch is a movie made in 2015 which is repackaged. Previously known as The Legend of Seven Toe Maggie, this IndieGoGo funded film might stick. To name a few, it is now available on VOD outlets like Comcast, Amazon and iTunes.

Writer/director Joseph Lavender spearheads this independent product which interprets a local urban legend and expands upon it. Sadly, this original story cannot be found online, but the mention of the Church where the ghost is found is revealed during the end credits. This filmmaker succeeds in giving better details to this tale because I love folklore rich in local flavour; and involving Native Americans.

Cordele, Georgia is where the real myth came from. Lavender said the location has many different stories tied to it by those who were brave enough to travel to it. He wrote, "our film is meant to give a more detailed account of the legend and give it a more entertaining spin. This area is rich with history and old ghost stories making it the perfect setting for this kind of film. The story follows a young girl by the name of Mattie (Mandi Christine Kerr) who has been bothered by a paranormal experience she had as a child, who seeks the help of the new guy in town Zeke, who happens to be a member of a ragtag group of paranormal investigators called G.H.O.S.T."

This movie has a sorority house feel which stays consistent throughout the film. When Zeke (Chase Steven Anderson) is at a party and gets bullied by Mattie's brother, she becomes quickly sympathetic to him and they bond. The chemistry between these two is sweet. They have a mutual interest in the paranormal. This element is more at the forefront. When he encourages her to visit the haunted house where she had that encounter so she can learn how to overcome her fear, trouble can only manifest.

The character development between these two is very enjoyable to follow. The rest of the gang (Zeke's friends who make up the team) are throwaways.

With this tale, all the classical haunted house tropes are used. People get dragged away by unseen hands. Because this is a budget film, we do not get to see a lot of fog/smoke effects often associated with this genre. Most of the money is most likely spent in getting the flashbacks to feel authentically period. The rest, it depends on how interested audiences are in watching yet another paranormal investigation. They are typically dull when no activity occurs, but when it happens during a movie, a lot is guaranteed to happen and it is always "bad."

Even for a modestly budgeted film, this one is worth investigating. If there was only a way to get the Maggie to move on and to see the light, then maybe she can find happiness. As with most cinematic ghost stories, they are made "evil" because who they were considered as such by the tormentors. The flashbacks paint a different picture of her and she only became that way because of those said people. She's out for revenge because of them, and the way she connects with the living is only made more disturbing.

While this movie has reignited my interest in tales set around the Appalachian Mountains (this State just touches The Great Smokies), I feel this story holds no candle to other supernatural legends. I like to see a movie about the Moon-Eyed People. In essence, Ghost Witch is more-or-less about idiots awakening a Revenant. If Lavender is not available to develop other local tales, hopefully other filmmakers can. The Legend of Octavia Hatcher is certainly a story I would love to see made to film!

Overall: 7 out of 10.

Ed has his own Blog/website here: Ed Sum at Otaku No Culture


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