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 ) is a coven leader who is heading up a weekend retreat to initiate Margaret (Delaloye of Welcome to Essex ) 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 / 5)