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David G.B. Brown,
This film, while not a classic, avoids being a schlockfest for several reasons. The script, about a 17th century English witch being summoned back from the dead by a spell and inhabiting the body of a college co-ed, is a cut above. It's all opinion, but the acting is uniformly good, considering the usual stock of talent that populates these films. The filmmakers must have raided the best of the local collegiate theater majors and community theater talent, because the actors all give competent performances. The low budget enhances the film in some ways. The prologue, showing the hanging of the titular witch, is an effective montage of tight shots of the witch's and executioners' feet walking through muddy sludge to the gallows and the aforementioned characters' faces as the execution transpires. The film then cuts to the opening titles, shown over silent footage of windy autumnal Dallas streets as a singer performs a witch's "rune" acapella. It's an unsettling performance that creates some much-needed atmosphere and, hopefully, gives one an inkling of what will follow. I'm not a filmmaker, but the style exhibited in these opening moments made me hope that what I was about to watch would be, at least, competent and, at most, a great lost film. MARK OF THE WITCH is not a lost classic, but it is an effectively made little horror flick, made on the cheap by people who show not a little raw talent. Some will be disappointed that it's not a train wreck of bad acting and threadbare production values, while others will rue the fact that the movie isn't packed with blood and gore. What MARK OF THE WITCH is is a movie that moves toward it's ending methodically at a pace more in keeping with early 70s TV movies than modern slashers. But that's a good thing. Just train yourself to wait for the payoff.
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