Director Jason Bognacki presents an interesting storyline, with a few nods to gothic elements, providing an original tale, especially in a genre saturated in rising zombies and paranormal mishaps this movie generates a new path. However, thankfully the title changed, from “Another” to Mark of the Witch, which obviously is a play on the impressive movie, The Witch from director Robert Eggers, and note that Bognacki’s film is not a remake of director Tom Moore’s film of the same title from 1970. Jason uses his growing resume of short films to conjure his second directorial feature, but the first in horror, his debut came from drama flick Loma Lynda: Episode II (2004), his feature venture in horror, comes at price, of 80-minute movie with an excessive too long of credit roll. In other words, someone pad the running time, however it doesn’t lessen the story, rather providing an atmospheric tale, with no hint of b-movie layered into, especially since it had a successful festival run, achieving releases both DVD and now VOD, thanks to Epic Pictures Releasing.
An effectively spooky opening unfolds for the beginning of the film, as a group of black-robed coven of witches performing a ritual with a child, while sounding familiar, a raven observes the ceremony, the story switches gears perhaps a tad too fast, as the story centers on modern day. Most of the tale revolves around Jordyn (Paulie Redding) now celebrating her eighteenth birthday, accompanied by her Aunt Ruth (Nancy Wolfe) and boyfriend Donny (David Landry), along with her gal pal Kym (Lillian Pennypacker), but this party starts normal and finishes dreadfully just like one expects in a horror film. How – with her Aunt chiming in with mention the death of her mother giving birth to her, and then stammering “it is time” as she performs a form of hari-kari to her tummy. Ruth makes an exit in the ambulance and likely a psych ward too, for her heighten celebration activities, Jordyn shocked from the situation decides for some alone time and ventures to take a train ride home to sort things out – no surprise. Soon find individuals in black following her, while she has sinister visions plaguing her daily life, centered on The Omen theme of a child born for and of Satan, twisted fates and a raven oversees all. All becomes more muddled in a demonic world filled less with symbolism and more with possession, desire and more mysterious ancestry link to devil. Redding does a fine performance of a young woman struggling more with her innocence, free will and the war of evil, similar to the TV movie Rosemary’s Baby II (1976). Needless, one cannot overlook the contribution from Maria Olsen and her talents lent to this production the boil over to a fiery hellish battle of two witches casting spells and fighting over mortal souls.
Now this flick does not have the sustaining power to mesmerizing of The Witch (2015) nor the casting of magical spells from Burn Witch Burn (1962), but it does have Olsen and Redding providing the power to drive the film forward. Bognacki also borrow a bit from John Carpenter’s filmmaking style with regard to point of view shots from the killer to the use of the knife welding measures. The scenes contain great visuals, expressing elements of thrillers and striving into the horror genre with some production, however the pacing feels off, as if trying to stretch the screen time to beef up a lacking script. As for the screenplay, it simply lacks the plot, and the poor dialogue draws on the patience of a viewer, in addition, the usage of a slo-mo sequence comes perhaps once, and for necessary impact, the beheading in Friday the 13th (1980), not to add to the screen time, clearly showing through in the production. This becomes evident in the CGI downfall, while the technology has a fitting place in filmmaking, a director needs to understand it is not the end all to solutions of low budget film, practical effects transcend very well and special effects personnel’s creativity understands what a scene needs to pop for boring to rigid attention from the audience.
The horror genre, always was and will ever be the testing grounds for new filmmakers, it allows more low-budget productions and accepting audiences, however the battles of good versus evil need to excel forward with passion and intelligence. Rather than bore the audience with tiresome scene, use some rational of complex morality situations to test the characters, however it circles back to the dialogue and depth of the screenplay both which lack greatly. Aside of the tiresome tale and storytelling it strives positively with strong ratings for the images and technical aspects.