[Review] The Witches of Bushwick (Portland Horror Film Festival): Social Media and the Supernatural Clash in Solid Horror Short

Witches more interested in their social media accounts than their craft find themselves in diabolical danger in the horror short The Witches of Bushwick. Cowriters/codirectors Catherine Delaloye and Joe Pardavila have crafted an admirable slice of supernatural cinema that sets its sights on social media influencers, poseurs looking for a big financial score, and the addiction of seeking online fame.

Mother Anika (Chloe Farnworth of 12 Hour Shift [2020]) is a coven leader who is heading up a weekend retreat to initiate Margaret (Delaloye of Welcome to Essex [2018]) into their group. The other members are Luna (Charly Bivona), a punk-edged fan of The Craft; Soraya (Alina Carson), a crystal seller who is possibly from a silver-spoon background, and Renn (Marianne Noscheze), who is ready to sell out and land a big sponsorship deal. 

Margaret is suspicious of the other members’ dedication to witchcraft and questions them about where their interests really lie. When the other witches leave her to her own devices in a forest nearby their lodging in an initiation rite, strange, beastly sounds leave them spooked, but the worst is yet to come.

Delaloye and Pardavila do a fine job with dialogue, with each of the original coven members revealing their shortcomings in others’ eyes while thinking those faults are their strengths. Viewers get a good handle on the characters quickly this way. The cast does a wonderful job of bringing those characters to cinematic life, with each member of the ensemble nailing her part.

Although The Witches of Bushwick satirizes the culture of social media influencing, it also takes its horror elements quite seriously. Delaloye and Pardavila build suspense well and deliver a chilling final act. If there is a fault with the short, it would be that a major plot point might be telegraphed early on for more seasoned fright-fare fans, but an impressive-looking, eerie surprise helps make up for that. Currently on the film festival circuit, The Witches of Bushwick is loaded with talent on both sides of the camera, and well worth seeking out.

Witches of Bushwick screened as part of Portland Horror Film Festival’s virtual edition, which ran June 10 and June 17–21. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.