The Old Ways is a 2020 American horror film about a female reporter who is kidnapped by a witch who wants to exorcise her.
Directed by Christopher Alender (Memorial Day) from a screenplay written by Marcos Gabriel (Memorial Day), the Soapbox Films production stars Brigitte Kali Canales, Andrea Cortés, Julia Vera and Sal Lopez.
When Cristina Lopez – a Mexican American reporter – returns to her ancestral homeland of Veracruz, Mexico, chasing a story on witchcraft and faith healers, she becomes the subject of her own story.
Kidnapped by a local “bruja” (witch) and her son, she’s held against her will for a terrifying reason: they believe she has a demon within her, and won’t let her free until they exorcise the malevolent force … no matter what it takes.
As she struggles to make her escape, she slowly comes to believe they may be telling the truth after all. Along with her captors – and estranged cousin Miranda – Cristina’s fight for survival turns into a fight for her soul…
“Despite a limp story and an eerie location that tends to wears out its welcome by the end, the film works best as an alarming blend of demonic possession and visceral body horror and made even more compelling by Brigitte Kali Canales’ principal performance.” Arrow in the Head
“With this movie, we get a story that feels more grounded and realistic to me. And that makes it all the more creepy. Also, I loved the way effects were used in this movie. Never too much or over the top. Again, something that helps the movie come across better for me.” Heaven of Horror
“Despite minor quibbles, Alender’s second feature-length offering is a winner from start to finish, with well-timed flickers of black humor and a reliance on performance over overblown effects (although there are some nice visual “boo!” moments to be enjoyed as well). The Old Ways may in fact be the best ways after all.” Horror 101 with Dr AC
“The Old Ways looks gorgeous thanks to terrific set design and sharp cinematography by Adam Lee, and the score from Ben Lovett (I Trapped the Devil; The Wind) accents the story superbly […] Though the film contains some familiar elements, it reworks them in ways that result in a tale that feels fresh.” Horror Fuel
“While the inconsistency in the approach to horror is a glaring issue, the rest of the film is good enough to make it worth watching. Each cast member imbues their role with personalities and complexities that make them feel like real people while giving them different motivations that allow for authentic interpersonal conflicts in addition to the supernatural threat.” Loud and Clear
“I occasionally found myself reminded of Martyrs, The Evil Dead, and The Exorcist -but I never felt that The Old Ways was derivative. Director Christopher Alender and writer Marcos Gabriel take aspects of these films, blending them with their own visions, and present them in a way that feels fresh, bringing a new vision of folk horror to the screen.” Modern Horrors
“The movie is shot well with a shrewd sense of restraint by DP Adam Lee and a score by Ben Lovett (Sun Don’t Shine, The Ritual, The Wind) that relies mostly on strings and chanting to a pleasing, from the standpoint of scares, effect. It’s a very effective and entertaining version of the possession and exorcism story that I would recommend completely.” Nightmarish Conjurings
“This is a heavily female-centric film written by a male writer without a blatant male gaze, which is amazing. While some might find it over the top, the ending is symbolically fitting for someone finding themselves, embracing their culture, and ready to shape the future.” View from the Dark
“Much of the film is driven by performances, but there are some fairly gruesome moments courtesy of Nick Lively (The Wind, Body at Brighton Rock). This all dovetails quite nicely with the film’s subplot about Cristina becoming reacquainted with her own culture […] It all builds up to a fast-paced and quite fitting last act.” Voices from the Balcony
“Alender and Gabriel do an excellent job of finding new ways to represent the battle going on in the exorcism, making it much more visually dynamic than an old man waving a cross and yelling incantations while someone writhes against their restraints. The Old Ways succeeds because Alender and Gabriel found new life in a tired sub-genre.” Wicked Horror
The Old Ways had its world premiere at the Sitges International Film Festival in Spain on October 16th 2020.
The film was made available for streaming on Netflix in August 2021.
Cast and characters:
Brigitte Kali Canales … Cristina
Andrea Cortés … Miranda
Julia Vera … Luz
Sal Lopez … Javi
AJ Bowen … Carson
Weston Meredith … Postehki
Julian Lerma … Demon Boy
Elizabeth Phoenix Caro … Young Cristina
Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez … Cristina’s Mother