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‘Bad Witch’ review: Having fun with the dark arts

I put a spell on you.

Bad Witch is one of those movies in which the cover art will trick some viewers. While the movie looks and even sounds like horror, it is firmly entrenched in comedy. Xander (Chris Kozlowski) is a witch who has continued to use black magic with awful results. After deciding to give up on casting spells, he befriends a teen named Roland Grimm (Jackson Trent). Xander figures witchcraft can help Roland. 

This is dangerous territory for a movie about the dark arts. There is plenty of family friendly fare about witches and warlocks – some of it very good – but it is a thin line between entertainment and mockery. For whatever reason, comedy horror is more likely to anger fans than entertain them. Thankfully, Bad Witch is able to navigate the course. 

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Horror comedy has a tendency to play to the upper rafters. Physical comedy becomes that much easier when the unexplained can cause wacky mishaps. While this cannot be completely avoided, Bad Witch takes a more cerebral approach with its humor. The script uses wit and sarcasm to garner its laughs. It is a pleasant surprise.

Bad Witch does not completely forgo its horror side. Things can even get pretty dark at times. The film also includes some nice practical effects for those who enjoy their terror to be gory. There is a willingness to laugh at witchcraft without making it seem silly. It can be difficult to make black magic still look dangerous while using it for jokes, but it works here. 

In between all the hexes and kidding, the film also takes time to have a moral. As Roland becomes more reliant on magic, he begins to face a moral quandary. This is to be expected and is the main point of contention for the characters. Bad Witch will not surprise anyone with the direction it takes, but it is a lot of fun getting there.

Bad Witch releases April 27

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