SyFy Corner: Witchville (2010)
I’m at a total loss here people. How could the SyFy Channel give us such entertaining films like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Malibu Shark Attack, and Ice Spiders and then turn around and give us such painfully unexciting and eyeball-bleeding flicks like Sand Serpents and Witchville? All these films are no doubt cinematic cheese, but with the three former films there’s a fun spirit that runs through them. We get lots of destruction and mayhem caused by the titular creatures and the films never take themselves too seriously. With the two later films you get the feeling they were rush jobs cranked out quickly to fulfill some deadline or promise.
Let’s start with the title itself; Witchville. This pretty much gives away just how lazy this film is gonna be. I can just hear the meeting now to name the movie:
Producers to SyFy: Ok; we almost didn’t make it but we got that film we promised you.
SyFy to Producers: Excellent. What’s it called?
Producers to SyFy: We don’t have a title yet.
SyFy to Producers: Well what’s it about?
Producers to SyFy: Its about this village in medieval times that is threatened by an evil witch.
SyFy to Producers: So there’s a village of threatening witches? Hhmmm … Got it: Witchville!!
The plot is pretty basic: Malachy, played by Luke Goss (Prince Nuada in Hellboy 2) returns to his home village to take over the crown after his father, the king, dies. He’s been away from his “kingdom,” which looks like the Detroit of the medieval ages, for quite some time boozing it up and partying. As he walks around the sprawling kingdom (which is maybe the size of a city block … MAYBE) he realizes what a shit hole he just inherited. He’s then confronted by a self-proclaimed witch hunter Heinrich Kramer (Simon Thorp) who tells the new king that he’s got a witch problem on his hand. Whoa; I just got a flashback to Robert Shaw’s Sam Quint in Jaws running his nails down a chalkboard telling the town’s people they have a shark problem!! Anyway; Kramer then pulls out some red powder, blows it into the air, and tells our gullible and not-too-bright king that the powder will expose any witches in the crowd. Before you can say “Broom Hilda”, the powder attacks a woman in the crowd and in seconds the villagers construct a wooden bonfire, tie her up, and burn her at the stake. How’s that for efficiency!! A stranger tells everyone he has some magic dust that can expose witches and next thing you know the town, which is obviously full of carpenters, constructs an impressive wooden structure to kill that woman in the crowd.
This is just the beginning of a ridiculous plot that involves the head witch, called The Red Queen (Sarah Douglas) and her daughter (MyAnna Buring) who is also a witch, trying to get this magical book from our bumbling witch hunter Kramer. Why? Who cares!! You won’t. And the motivation for the Red Queen being such a bitch? Seems she was in a bad marriage to the king who just died. That’s right; The Red Queen is Malachy’s mom. Oh no … I just got another flashback: “Luke … I’m your father.” I really wish I was kidding here folks. Everything from the plot to the characters to the dialogue feels rushed and all the actors seem to be sleepwalking through their roles waiting for the movie to be over. Even the fight scenes are lazy and awkward looking. And did you know that witches have a red-powder filling? You didn’t? Well they do!! Every time a witch is killed they burst into a red powder. There’s also a group of Asian thieves the king and his crew run into that are forgotten about as soon as they are introduced. Ya just gotta shake your head at films like this.
Witchville is poorly directed by Pearry Reginald Teo who doesn’t seem to have control over the material here and just lets the “action” unfold as it will. And did this one really need two people to write it? Apparently it did. John Werner and Amy Krell are responsible for this one. Krell, who is also a producer, has produced other SyFy classics like Beyond Sherwood Forest (2009) and Gryphon (2007). Witchville is her first foray into writing. I’d tell her to stick with producing, but …..
The only sight for sore eyes here is the very sexy MyAnna Buring. Her character is the only one you’ll find interesting. She’s an ass-kicking witch who is as good a fighter as she is a spell-caster. You’ll recognize her from such better (waaay better films) as The Descent (2005), Doomsday (2008), Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009) and The Descent 2 (2009). But here, in Witchville, she is wasted in her role.
The f/x are horrible even for a SyFy flick. Terrible CGI of red powder floating around and glowing balls of light that represent the witch’s spells dominate. And the one practical effect we get will make you hungry for breakfast. One character is tortured by the Red Queen and has a huge burn on his creepy, hairless chest. But the burn looks suspiciously like dried oatmeal. I think its safe to say that the filmmakers here just didn’t care. As I said above, everything about this one feels rushed. This is a huge misfire from a network that has proven they can provide really fun and entertaining cheese. All they gave us here is an unappetizing block of moldy cheese. Skip this one.
Director: Pearry Reginald Teo
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer