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[Fantastic Fest] ‘The Queen of Black Magic’ review: Don’t look back in anger

Do you like blood and centipedes?

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

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There are some things that a person should never do in a horror movie. Making its North American premiere at Celebration of Fantastic Fest, The Queen of Black Magic reinforces one of them. Never go back and visit the orphanage you grew up in.

The Queen of Black Magic has a very large cast. This is not uncommon for horror movies. More people means more victims. The downside is not every character has a chance to be properly developed. No matter how good the performances may be, the characters end up meaning little.

The screenplay from Jojo Anwar employs a creative workaround. None of the ancillary characters in The Queen of Black Magic are simply fodder. Smaller parts are used to embellish the main cast. This makes everyone important.

It does not take long for The Queen of Black Magic to kick into high gear. The audience immediately learns the movie is going to be very gruesome and nothing is going to be off limits. One of the film’s biggest problems is also highlighted during the first kill.

[Fantastic Fest] 'The Queen of Black Magic' review: Don't look back in anger

The CGI is immersion breaking at times. This would not be that big of a deal if it were not for the fact creepy crawlies played such an important role. It does not happen all the time, so the parts that do not look as good stand out. These moments end up falling into the “good idea in theory” category.

When the scenes do work, they are frightening. Once the action picks ups, The Queen of Black Magic does not shy away from blood. It comes up with some disgusting ways to satisfy gore hounds. This movie is definitely not for the squeamish.

The Queen of Black Magic has its share of horror movie tropes. Faucets suddenly begin to run blood, for example. The film does not rely on old tricks, however. They are offset by some nauseatingly fun moments, including a woman who has her own method for shedding a few pounds.

[Fantastic Fest] 'The Queen of Black Magic' review: Don't look back in anger

What is a little more difficult to accept is the story. Why would anyone go back to visit the orphanage in the first place? A revelation midway through the movie makes it hard to believe anyone would want to return. When The Queen of Black Magic begins resorting to rapid fire twists in the third act, things become confusing. This is definitely a case of style over substance.

Visually impressive for the most part, The Queen of Black Magic will satisfy fans of gross out horror. The amount of violence and gore is almost self indulgent. The muddled story will probably prevent crossover to non fans, but there is an audience for the film.


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