When I first saw the trailer for The Love Witch, I thought it was another one of those dreadful low-budget direct-to-video movies – dim-witted, inept, clumsy, and lifeless. But it did strike me that it seemed to have the makings of a “so bad, it’s good” movie. I thought I would probably enjoy mocking its awfulness.
To my surprise, The Love Witch isn’t necessarily an objectively bad and incompetent movie. For the “bad movie” indications that I noticed in the trailer is very much intentional. Telling a story about a young witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson) who uses dark magic to make men fall desperately in love with her, the movie serves as both homage and parody of campy 60’s horror-thriller films.
The acting in this movie is as authentically deadpan and over-the-top as the ones in the films it’s emulating. Either the cast just delivered terrific, committed performances or the casting director brilliantly hired actors from the same acting pool where Tommy Wiseau came from.
Likewise, the “ridiculousness” of the script is spot-on, completing the appeal.
But the best thing about its 60’s-style approach is its production value, editing, and visuals. In these respects, this film is stylish and immaculate. Despite being made and set in the 21st century, the movie really does look and feel like a movie made in the 60’s – all thanks to its pretty, elaborately-detailed sets, costume design, and makeup; period-accurate technical transitions and narrative flow; and gorgeous Technicolor aesthetics.
In addition, though not necessarily profound and though I don’t fundamentally agree with much of its message, its story is deeply metaphorical – utilizing its over-the-top occult premise to explore themes like feminism, love and desire, narcissism, and how men see women.
So, yeah, The Love Witch is technically not terrible. It’s a fresh-concept, good-looking, and amusing movie. And even if what it intends to be of itself doesn’t work for you, it can still entertain through a “so bad, it’s good” perspective.
I don’t really love The Love Witch. But it’s always nice to discover a movie you thought would be bad turned out being not.