It’s rare that I go well outta my way to mercilessly trash a movie. I’ve even been sent screeners of short indie films here and there with a request for a review, and the movie didn’t turn out to be all that hot. Even then I tried to be as kind as I possibly could and find something positive to comment on.
But every now and then, I stumble across stuff that raises the ol’ hackles and awakens my thirst for vengeance. Such is the case with Documenting The Witch Trail. And while I do drop the occasional spoiler here and there in a review, I try hard to give some fair warning.
In keeping with that, allow me to announce right up front that this is by far my most spoiler-heavy review to date. Yep, I’m releasing the felis domesticus from the burlap. Why? Cuz I wanna keep people from wasting their time on this lazy cheap trick of a “film.”
I get it. Already you might be thinking, “Well, if the director tricked you, isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t he accomplish his goal?” No. It wasn’t that there was a trick involved, and I fell for it. This was a lame, badly pulled off attempt at active, manipulative deception, sort of a cinematic version of gaslighting if you will. And even on that level, it fails.
So, the “director,” Carl Sundström, decides to do a documentary about Witch Lake, a place where many witches were were apparently executed in the name of the church. He and his crew discover that the lake they planned to investigate is a second Witch Lake. Guided hikes to the “real” one were shut down after only 4 tours. Anyone Sundström talks to from the township discourages the idea of visiting the real Witch Lake.
Naturally, he decides to go. One crew member quits, leaving Sundström and his friend/fellow documentarian, Robin Franzén. After slogging through 37 minutes of discussion and prep, they head for the site and immediately start making Blair Witch comparisons as Robin gets more and more unsettled the longer he’s near the lake.
When night falls, there are weird noises (including a church bell) and a flashing light across the lake that looks like it begins heading around the lake toward them. Oo-wee-oooooo. Very scary boys and girls (if my eyes roll back in my head any further I’ll be able to read my own mind).
Then the film cuts to a month before this moronic trip to Witch Lake. Turns out that the entire thing was an elaborate prank staged by Sundström and a handfulla cronies specifically to poke at people’s belief in witches, something he apparently feels are to this day just below the surface for most of us. It’s an interesting point, sure. Or it could have been were it not that Sundström cops such a condescending, self-righteous air of smug superiority.
Admittedly, this whole idea could have still been interesting idea even despite Sundström’s shit attitude if the ending weren’t telegraphed well in advance. Once the third member of the crew peels off from the project because it makes him uneasy, the red flags start going up. You just know something’s up.
I briefly considered describing this waste of time as The Blair Witch Project meets Jackass. Except the former at least attempted something quasi-new and different while the latter, whether I wanna admit it or not, makes me laugh. This 68-minute crap sundae has neither of those things going for it.
Basically it’s a massive steaming pile of predictable, ill conceived, badly executed gotcha filmmaking. If I’d paid to see this, I’d be even more seriously pissed of than I already am. The only thing that wasted my time even more viciously than that was I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. I’m even annoyed I’ve written this much about it.
So yeah, a real knee-slapper, this one. If you listen close, you can probably hear a distant trombone going “wah-wah-wah-waaahhh.”
SKULLS- negative 13
Streaming/Rent- who cares?