The Witch (2014) – By Josh Samford

Director Jay Crimson isn’t a well-known figure within horror film circles, certainly not as of the moment, but I must commend the gentleman for crafting this short film after ideas that have long been out of the public conscious. Witches as contemporary horror figures have all but vanished from pop culture. In the same way that vampires have been demystified in the mainstream, the "witch" has become a nearly vilified stereotype. Often maligned as a misogynist concept developed by men to disparage independent women, there have been attempts to update the mythos with the most notable example being The Craft (1996). That film posed both positive and negative examples of those who practice witchcraft, but classifying it as a pure horror film might not be possible. Witches simply haven’t been popular, and with the Wicca religion drastically trying to remove all stereotypes from the word "witch," but it simply seems nice to run into a film that isn’t afraid to rely on some of those old ideas.

The Witch is a six minute short film that details a woman, dressed in black, apparently running from a gentleman who follows her through the woods and then into a graveyard. It is in this graveyard that we discover that all is not what it appears to be in this situation.

The first thing to note about The Witch, outside of the above discussion concerning its "monster," is the style that the short takes advantage of. The project is told in the same manner as a classic silent film, featuring familiar title cards that announce the cast and crew. This presentation is certainly the best aspect of the show. While it is true that faux-scratches on faux-celluloid is more than a bit tired at this point, Crimson uses black and white photography to his advantage. The short manages to develop a creepy atmosphere that works very well, even if certain aspects of its presentation are not ideal. This atmosphere is most often achieved through the use of eery music that gives off a perfectly suitable aura of creepiness. With any silent film, music proves to be the greatest tool in properly developing emotion while telling a story, and The Witch puts forth a strong effort in developing these ideas almost immediately. The synth and chime heavy soundtrack is unabashed in developing a genuine "horror movie" atmosphere, and while the silent film aesthetic will not prove to be for all audiences, one must congratulate the filmmakers on their excellent choice in music.

There are negative aspects of the short as well. Ultimately, it feels like it is a practice piece for the director. This shows him toying with ideas, trying to showcase blood in a black & white film, and generally playing around with few big motivations in mind. So, the short feels like it’s more of a game than anything that actually demands that viewers see more. With all of that said, sometimes cinema can be as simple as a game. So, if nothing else, the short delivers upon its promise of thrills and chills, with a little eye gore thrown in for good measure. Overall, it’s a recommend. You can view it for yourself via Jay Crimson’s official YouTube account!