A retrospective on The Witch films

Every Witch Way But Loose

A retrospective on Park-Hoon-jung’s The Witch films: The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion and The Witch: Part 2 – The Other One.

The Witch poster.

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s Feely banging on about Korean horror again. So, um, yeah.

Why a retrospective for these films – which came out in 2018 and 2022 respectively – you may ask? Well, because despite being saddled with possibly two of the worst titles in cinematic history, they’re actually very good. And I don’t recall much talk about them when they came out.

The Witch 2: The Other One poster.

The world of The Witch films revolves around a familiar sci-fi/horror trope, that we’ve seen in everything from the X-Men films to Stranger Things: a shadowy organisation that is conducting immoral and illegal experiments on children in order to produce superhumans.

At the start of The Witch: Part 2, it is made clear that this organisation is prepared to go all the way up to gassing and abducting a bus of schoolchildren, and faking their deaths, in pursuit of their dastardly aims.

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I do like a film that walks us into what feels like familiar genre territory – as above – then turns sharply into a detour in an entirely unexpected direction. The act 2/act 3 transition in the first film is just such a twist and I’d like to think part of the title is a sly reference to that.

A woman smiles while pointing a gun to the camera.

A lot of the power of The Witch: Part 1 derives from a barn-storming lead performance from Kim Da-mi as heroine Goo Ja-yoon. Taking her character from a naive schoolgirl to the eventual revelation of her true chillingly controlling personality, Kim carries the entire film on her back, barely being off-screen for a moment of its running time.

Her performance rightly garnered a hatful of Best Actress awards at genre film festivals.

A woman covered in blook holds the head of a someone kneeling down before her.

The sequel is fronted by an equally impressive performance from debut actress Shin Si-ah as Ark 1.

Across various media recently, there have been a number of depictions of out-of-control superhumans, from the sadistic anti-hero of Brightburn to the insanely depraved Homelander of The Boys.

Their potential for terrifying violence and menace is clear and The Witch films give us a delightful selection of variedly psychopathic superhumans nemeses.

Two people fighting with one dual wielding daggers. Behind them are men with guns.

Rotten Tomatoes gave the first film an approval rating of 89% and the second one 75%.

If you want an exquisitely paced plot, along with expertly constructed action sequences, a banging score, and lashing of ultra-violence, this may be the duology for you!

The Witch: Part 1 and Part 2 are both available to watch on Shudder.

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