The Witch: Neil Marshall’s new production review


Neil Marshall’s hilarious career, from his first feature film, Dog Soldiers, promises a bright destiny. Holding pure formalist terror (the cult The Descent) as well as the no-brainer B series (Doomsday), able to breathe a real epic breath into his work (the incredible Centurion, his Game of Thrones episode), he’s finally caught by Hollywood with Hellboy being crucified personally. critical, despite some gruesome visions of the apocalypse. His return to evil low budget should logically wash away the humiliation and recall his former glory. The disappointment is getting bigger.

Is Marshall a victim of Paul WS Anderson syndrome? Author of several bankrupt and inventive award successes, he has also been seduced by the Hollywood sirens whose cynicism has rubbed off on his style, and has also made up for it by collaborating with his partner, Charlotte Kirk, here on both co-writers, co-producers and lead actresses. If this kind of personal and artistic partnership can be interesting (Mom!), and even become the thematic core of the project (The super cool What Keeps You Alive, which you talked to me about is a few s), The Reckoning, from the original title, is more like one the cinematographic altar erected by Anderson for the attention of Milla Jovovich, lacks decomplexion.

Clearly confident in the screenplay the two artists co-wrote, the director is only concerned with the inspiration, but perhaps not the most suitable for such a demanding role. It takes real work from a point of view to tell the abuse experienced by a woman accused of witchcraft in the midst of a plague outbreak. But Marshall’s camera, once the queen of over-framing, bows completely to the figure embodied by the famous Grace and settles for on or off-screen during the countless ordeals that follow each other in a long second act.

Too frontal vis–vis a very contemporary subject that clearly questions representational bias, distinguished only by its inability to draw anything out of the story, is actually treated with a rather depressing first degree. Even during the sequence where the inquisitor protects his own modesty by covering the naked victim with a white cloth, the staging refuses to choose which side of the cloth to stand on, too busy emphasizing every manifestation of ‘heroin’ bravery.

Completely subdued by intrigue with transparent feminist ambitions, for which she doesn’t know what to do, the film sinks into a papal seriousness that neither suits its director nor its aesthetics. Even if Marshall enjoys the bloody slip on the insert twists, the whole gets caught up in visuals, narrative, and even musical caricatures, so much of the grainy dialogue and Bourino’s medieval soundtrack betrays the proposal’s sole purpose: riding the post-MeToo wave to crown Kirk in the character’s boots. martyrs – but not too many – and vengeful – but not too many. Unpleasant impression that the soulful final card is responsible for confirming.

Too stupid to be relevant, but not enough to please, the result can’t even boast the privilege of novelty. In his description of medieval censure and plague, he doesn’t hold back water in the face of Christopher Smith’s Black Death, where the fantasized filth of the time isn’t just a depressing photo. , several dark sets and two or three scattered prostheses. Condensed and presented by a secondary cast that’s almost as close to the wizard as the title suggests, the expanding universe is painful to look at.

Fans of the genre will also notice that The Reckoning is pretty much the same as the definitive The Witch. The idea that led to these two feature films was this: the devil’s influence on women didn’t exist before, it was created (a concept not new, since Day of Wrath directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer was already mentioned in 1943). However, other than staging that doesn’t compete with Robert Eggers’ style of drawing, the film doesn’t even dare to follow through on its ideas in a weak, agreed-upon third act that betrays the duo’s opportunism.

Trapped in an overly optimistic narrative structure for its subject matter, the feature film sacrifices its meager fanciful arguments for the sole purpose of slightly iconicizing its main character and to fit it into code delivered by Hollywood cinema that doesn’t really represent it. era. Eggers’ other classic and contemporary minor experiments around witches and demons, such as The Lords of Salem, have however proved that such themes imply moral ambiguity.

Marshall and Kirk tidon’t care, turning their witches into tortured and not even funny superheroes, and taking on trendy themes in an attempt to reclaim a niche in American genre cinema. It was unanswered.

Sorcière is available on VOD in France, and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from 20 May 2021