Available on digital download on IFC Midnight; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Written by Adam MacDonald
Starring Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose, Eric Osborne, Romeo Carere, James McGowan, Neil Whitely, Victoria Sanchez, Missy Peregrym, & Bianca Melchior as Pyewacket!
ON top of being damn fun to say, PYEWACKET is a rock solid little tiptoe into witchcraft tale that will end up resonating on a much more emotional level that one might be used to in a fairy tale or horror film. With a likable cast, subtle effects, and a dense emotional core, PYEWACKET is a witchy movie to watch.
It’s the old “be careful what you wish for” yarn, retold with modern day angst. A troubled teenager named Leah (Nicole Muñoz ) is angry because her equally troubled mother (Laurie Holden) decides to uproot their home because it reminds her too much of her dead husband/Leah’s father. Upset to be leaving her friend’s behind and not being consulted about all of this, Leah resorts to the witchcraft that her friends dabble in for fun. But because of the emotional heft of Leah’s spell, she summons a demon called Pyewacket to kill her mother after an especially nasty mother/daughter argument in the middle of the woods outside their home. Waking with a level head and a misunderstanding of what she has done, Leah desperately fights to reverse the spell before the demon comes for her mother.
There’s a lot of emotional weight to PYEWACKET and this is why I like it. The angst felt by Leah is convincing and both her mother and her have a point to their arguments as they deal with the death of their husband/father. This would come off as teenage whining if not for the fact that Nicole Muñoz is one hell of a little actress. She is able to still make us like her, even though some of the stuff she is doing is pretty heinous. Lauren Holden is also convincing as the heavily burdened mother trying to support her family, but dealing with a great loss as well. It a believable relationship seeing both mother and daughter saying and doing things that are truly ugly and are hard to take back to one another. And that’s kind of the point of the whole film; once you say something, it’s hard to take it back and sometimes those words dig in deeper than one might think.
The demon Pyewacket itself is often seen in the periphery or just out of focus in the background. It is often heard, but not seen—still the presence is ominous due to some fantastic decisions in directing and sound. Those of you who get mad because you don’t get to see the monster clearly have something to get assed up about here. But it didn’t bother me as much because I was so invested in this complex and believable relationship between a teenage daughter and her mother. The effects that are shown are pretty gnarly, earth goddess-style stuff with lots of wood, dirt, and forestry, giving the entire supernatural element to this film a down to earth and grimy feel.
While those looking for a monster of the week flick might be left wanting, I was caught hook line and sinker into this one. The acting it top tier from Muñoz and Holden, plus a strong performance by Leah’s friend Janice (played by Chloe Rose). There are moments of this one that reminded me of the harrowing sadness achieved in Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES. If you’ve seen that film, you’ll know what I mean. PYEWACKET is as much an emotional horror tale as a physical one about witchcraft. I think that’s why I loved it so much.
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