Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (Witching and Bitching) Review

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Foreign, Horror, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

witchingandbitching_01It’s a safe bet that filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia is in complete agreement with the famous Oscar Wilde quote: “Moderation is fatal. Nothing succeeds like excess.” No two sentences could better describe de la Iglesia’s approach in his latest film, Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (aka Witching and Bitching), a frenetic visual and linguistic exercise in the extreme. Over-the-top is the movie’s starting point, and the Spanish director is hellbent on ratcheting up the absurdity at every opportunity. While ultimately the film suffers from being too much of a good thing – a trim of about ten minutes from the 104-minute run time would be in order – the picture is so original, the cast so committed, and the production design so much fun that the experience is as irresistible as the English language title.

We open with the main character, Jesus Christ (Hugo Silva), robbing a gold exchange with the assistance of SpongeBob Squarepants, Minnie Mouse, and the Invisible Man. It turns out that Christ, or Jose as he is known out of uniform and without the cross, is something of a deadbeat dad so naturally he uses his visitation day with his young son to go forward with the heist. They hijack a cab and move to Plan B, which is drive to Paris Disneyland and live happily ever after. And, naturally, there are only two things that could go wrong with that type of foolproof scheme. One is that Jose’s ex-wife and the police are soon in pursuit. And the second is the decision to go to Disneyland via the village of Zugarramurdi, where the bitchinest witches that ever twitched just happen to live.

It’s a family affair with Grandma (Terele Pávez) trying to cook the little kid, Mom (Carmen Maura) doing her best to set the table before the other witches arrive, and daughter Eva (Carolina Bang) intent on ruining her appetite by grabbing a bite of Jose. The female cast in Las brujas de Zugarramurdi is fantastic and so dominate the proceedings that it’s possible to overlook the more misogynistic moments in the film. Bang, in particular, is a revelation as the young tigress with a taste for man, while Macarena Gómez is also wonderful as the ex-wife. The male cast members? Honestly, it just seems that there are way too many of them.

Billed as a horror comedy, Witching and Bitching is funny rather than scary, outrageous rather than suspenseful. While the finale may go on too long, the film ends on a high note. The set design is first rate, and the special effects, with the witches crawling the walls and walking the ceilings, thoroughly enjoyable. De la Iglesia has been compared to Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson, but no such comparisons are necessary. He has a fresh visual approach and a flair for fun, both of which are on full display here.

Three and a half stars.

  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    This is a funny post! Thank you 🙂

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