Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia. Directed by Álex de la Iglesia. Starts Hugo Silva, Mario Casas and Pepón Nieto.
After stealing gold rings from a jewelry store / bank, a group of men and a kid have to stop in Zugarramurdi, a town known for being the birthplace of witchcraft.
Mind. Completely. Blown. I was feeling disappointed by this year’s movie turnout (save a few exceptions). I was browsing Reddit’s Dreadit subreddit when a post suggested everyone watch Witching and Bitching, currently on Netflix. The title seemed like one of the cheap scary movie knockoffs you’ll often find gathering dust at video stores but I shrugged and pressed play. The first surprise came when I saw the movie wasn’t American (with a title like this, forgive my ignorance). That actually gave me a bit of hope that the original title would make more sense (and it did).
I watched for a bit, not sure if I was wasting my time… and then someone dressed in a Sponge Bob mascot costume took out a uzi. A silver-painted Jesus Christ took a shotgun out of his cross and I suddenly knew I was going to be all right: I was going to enjoy this.
If you’ve liked Shaun of the Dead, you will probably like Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi too. Sure, some of the humour and behavior is definitely Spanish and perhaps a bit out of my understanding. But that’s what made Shaun such a charming title. It was different. And like the zombie film, this is essentially a relationship movie disguised as horror, without exploiting the genre in a manner I’d deem cheap. Rather, like Shaun, it uses the horror and unknown to draw parallels with the other situation at hand. In Shaun, the protagonist of the same name was fighting to keep his slacker routine, yet conflicted about going the extra mile and going out of his comfort zone, for love.Except that in this case, the routine that might kill him is composed of the living dead. In Las Brujas, José goes for the first thing he thinks of to find an excuse to take his son away from his ex-wife, due to his resentment of her and women in general. He learns to come out of his misogynistic world and accept that not every woman he meets is a metaphorical witch… though most of those he’ll meet that night are literal ones.
Heavy-handed metaphors can kill a movie but in this case, I believe that there’s enough action, laughs and weird scenes to keep one following without feeling bugged down by life lessons. Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is fun, fast and entertaining all the way through.
Also, bonus: Macarena Gómez plays José’s ex-wife. That woman gave me confused dreams ever since I saw her in Dagon.