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THE HEX (2018)

aka HEKS
Directed & Written by Reine Swart
Starring Coco Lloyd, Mari Molefe van Heerden, Mary-Anne Barlow, Christopher Jaftha, Hungani Ndlovu, Rowan-Raine Pretorius, Stephanie Sandows, Andre Velts, Juanita de Villiers, Christel van den Bergh
Find out more about this film here!!

When she witnesses her mother’s murder on an online chat, artist/bartender Dilanne (Coco Lloyd) travels to the place of the murder in South Africa with the African tribal mask her mother gifted her. Her death has ties to her mom’s twin and a local witch doctor and Dilanne is determined to find out what happened and hopefully survive the experience.

THE HEX has pacing issues. Scenes go on too long past the point they are trying to make. There are also way too many jump scares that ultimately amount to false startles and forgettable moments. The filmmaker seems to have the Blumhouse method of scare tactics down with a musical burst accompanied with a comin’ at cha image every two to three minutes. There is also a weird way the film cuts between dreams and reality that makes for an unsettling watch. It’s not like Dilanne is sleeping when she has these visions, but right in the middle of a scene there’s an ethereal chase scene with Dilanne running away from some kind of monstrous pursuer in the jungle. It makes the film seem untrustworthy, as if everything is happening in a dream.

One of the things I noticed in THE HEX is that the attention seems to be on the relationships between Dilanne and a hunky doctor as well as a relationship between what looks to be the servants of the home Dilanne is living in. It’s fine to put some drama into your horror film, but that relationship drama shouldn’t overshadow what this movie is. This is a horror movie about South African witch doctors, spells, and cursed masks. But so much attention is spent on who is enamored with who, who’s jealous of who, and who is arguing or confiding in who. That’s not why people will want to see this movie. The relationship stuff feels more like clutter and filler than anything else, distracting from what could be a much more focused film about South African occult lore.

There’s a lot of potential in THE HEX. It appears some money was put into it, as it seems to have been filmed in South Africa on some kind of plantation. The film does a decent job of plotting out a simple problem with the murder of Dilanne’s mother. While I am not greatly familiar with South African folklore, it seems lengths were also taken to get the witch doctor rituals right. The acting is decent, though none of the actors are gigantic standouts. The bare bones are there and it seems to have been done with a capable hand by capable people. It just feels unfocused and uninterested in the scary parts which is the reason anyone would want to see the movie in the first place.

Check out the trailer here!!