Ghost Witch (2015) reviews and overview

 
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‘Tortured souls never leave’

Ghost Witch is a 2015 [released 2017] American supernatural horror film directed by Joseph Lavender (writer of Exit 101) from a screenplay co-written with Jarrod Musselwhite. The movie stars Mandi Christine Kerr, Gregory French and Josh Sinyard. It was initially known as The Legend of Seven Toe Maggie

Amateur paranormal investigators “G.H.O.S.T.” arrive in a small town in Georgia when one of its members, Zeke, meets up with a local girl, Mattie, who had a disturbing paranormal experience as a young girl in an old house her father purchased.

The land the house sits on is said to be haunted by a Native American girl who was supposedly tortured and murdered inside a church that was once there. Its up to Mattie’s new found friends to discover the mystery behind the legend of seven toe Maggie…

Once there, they are stalked and possessed as the truth about what happened there is revealed, as they all become unwilling participants in the ghost witch’s plan for vengeance…

Ghost Witch is available widely via VOD platforms from Wild Eye Releasing.

Review:

Ghost Witch is an agreeable supernatural sojourn, with a game, generally amiable cast, led by Chase Steven Anderson as geeky Zeke. Joseph Lavender’s direction is workmanlike and the technical credits, minus a couple of sound gaffes, are fine – a rarity in these days of micro-budget and often mind-numbing ‘found footage’ snore-inducers. 

Unfortunately, for all its plus points in terms of the story set up and onscreen delivery of characters (that aren’t just the usual teen fodder), Ghost Witch lacks a certain punchiness and tension. Sure, there are agreeable signposted signals of what’s to come, and they are not without their knowing humour. Thus, we have those well-worn standbys, the old-timer who carps: “This land’s cursed! You need to leave!”, and the interloping arrogant cops (one of whom even idly sniffs an aghast paranormal investigator’s discarded knickers!).

There is even a (surely unintended) reminder of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when Zeke barks: “Look, just stay here and make sure she doesn’t leave the room, ok?” For two-thirds of its running time, the film offers a cinematic ride we’ve been on before and it feels natural and is refreshingly without narrative baggage or show-off directorial distractions.

Towards the climax, there is the expected build up of minor mayhem, even if prior to this the requisite scares are fairly scarce. On the way, an apparently unsettling “demon face” is glimpsed so briefly that it barely registers. And that happens twice. Nothing is made of the “seven toe” potential for torment and although ghostly possession is depicted, as expected, it somehow lacks the visceral impact delivered in similar movies of this ilk. 

Ultimately, Ghost Witch slightly outstays is welcome by spending too long on its denouement. The film’s message – that racial hatred is sheer ignorance and a bad thing – is obviously welcome. Like the slightly dysfunctional paranormal team of friends depicted, the film itself just ambles its way along rather than ripping its way into our psyche. It’s worth a visit but don’t expect too much of the Ghost Witch.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“With this tale, all the classical haunted house tropes are used. People get dragged away by unseen hands. Because this is a budget film, we do not get to see a lot of fog/smoke effects often associated with this genre. Most of the money is most likely spent in getting the flashbacks to feel authentically period.” 28 Days Later Analysis

“The horror feels bland, cliché and unoriginal, I wasn’t scared once as Ghost Witch only hints chills in its title. Lavender fails to deliver an engaging story as we aren’t informed of who the Seven Toe Maggie is. There are some mildly entertaining moments near the end when the characters become possessed.” Decay Mag

Ghost Witch lacks tension and sadly chooses the wrong title, a commonplace phrasing, rather than the original allowed for more curiosity […] the movie never achieves the right combination of thrills. The inspiration coming from the films turned out by Hollywood such as The Conjuring, but where that movie succeeds, this only delivers a fleeting grip, losing the chances to throttle scares into the genre of hardcore fans.” The Horror Times

Ghost Witch does nothing new with the paranormal, haunted house story that has been done to death, but what it does have is likeable characters. These aren’t your usual teen fodder that are indistinguishable from so many other horror movies either. The whole film is well directed but it does suffer from padding in some scenes which takes you away from the story.” Horrorscreams Videovault

Ghost Witch is deadly dull, playing out more like a group of stoner teens at a frat party rather than a group of actual investigators staying in a haunted house. That’s not to say writer/director/co-star Joseph Lavender doesn’t at least try to add an extra layer of interest to his film, [eventually] touching on racial hatred in small-town America – through some fantastic flashback scenes that are the real highlight of this otherwise average spooky story.” Nerdly

Seven-Toes Maggie is never really fleshed out enough, beyond some possession and a plenty of thumping, and while there are moments that hold potential, this is just not a scary movie and feels mostly untapped, relying on the well-tread clichés we seen before. Still, given what Lavander is trying to do and with what, some concessions might be warranted.” That Moment In

” …Ghost Witch is another low budget horror movie that will get lost among a wave of other similarly titled horror fair, which is a shame because they did good on a budget. The acting is impressive for this micro-budget feature. Most of the characters come off as corny as an 80’s horror movie. This oddly works for the movie as you grow to like the characters instead of the hatred that comes with many horror films.” Without Your Head

Main cast and characters:

Chase Steven Anderson … Zeke
Mandi Christine Kerr … Mattie – The Walking Dead; Cell; The Vampire Diaries
Josh Sinyard … Ben – Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
Christina Pykles … Kylie
Jessie Bockenek … Ellie
Joseph Lavender … Cameron
Elizabeth Barrett … Cindy
Mandee Bloodworth … Rachel
Travis Breedlove … Officer Daniels
Chuck Clark … Frank
Slade Curtis … Officer Harden
Morgan Dasher … Young Mattie
Stephen Dixon … Hatless Joe
Walter Robert Duckworth … James
Gregory French … Jonathan –The Walking Dead; Sleepy Hollow TV series; The Vampire Diaries

Technical details:

97 minutes
Aspect ratio: 16:9 HD

Filming locations:

Byron, Sycamore (house) and Warner Robins, Georgia

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