Witching and Bitching Review: This is My Broomstick
You can say what you will about director Álex de la Iglesia, but you can’t deny that he always makes a lot of movie. Singular. His films are typically overstuffed with personality and incident and sometimes even just plain nonsense, and the result is very often a mess but almost always worth the price of admission.
His latest genre explosion, Witching and Bitching, is a horror comedy about a gang of gold thieves – each of them spurned or diminished in some way by their wives, ex-wives or girlfriends – who run afoul of a coven of witches. And yet despite that very high concept, Witching and Bitching doesn’t seem to know what irony is. The men of the film have a problem with women, and it turns out that women are indeed very much a problem: they’re all either members of or easily swayed into an apocalyptic misandrist cult that tortures men, eats their flesh and plans the downfall of the patriarchal Western civilization.
It would all be so offensive if it weren’t so damned silly. Álex de la Iglesia plays the story straight enough but keeps the tone of Witching and Bitching on such an absurd sugar high that you can’t stop chuckling long enough to judge the characters or the film for its backwards mindset. The writer/director seems to recognize that feelings of male inadequacy are real enough to justify this sort of emasculating fever dream but aren’t important enough to treat like a real problem. If you feel like women are all witches and/or bitches, you’re an idiot, and this movie is what you get. But he’ll still make the movie a hoot.
Witching and Bitching opens with an aggressively silly heist in which Spongebob Squarepants, Jesus Christ and one of those plastic green army guys you buy at the 99 Cent Store rob a Cash for Gold outlet and then jet into a comical car chase. The thieves, and a little boy they have in tow, never shut up for long: they’re too endearingly insecure for that. The worst that can be said about Witching and Bitching is that Álex de la Iglesia is content to let them carry the movie with their ratatat bromancing for far too long between plot points; their characters are long since established by the time they find themselves seduced, kidnapped and on the sacrificial altar.
Witching and Bitching finally takes off again once the witching hour begins, and the film at last embraces the victimization of these mopes as they run screaming through a gothic palace, trying to tell an unexpectedly amorous young diabolist what she wants to hear. (She’s so unreasonable! And yet so hot!). Eventually they have to halt a particularly ludicrous ritual from turning the young lad into the latest in a long line of Antichrists, and do battle with a particularly unexpected CGI creation. People get thrown into objects a lot. It’s all in good, or at least playfully subversive fun.
Witching and Bitching is very, very silly, and although it drags in the middle it’s never really dull. It’s a smorgasbord of broad comic and horror ideas that wrings more fun out of male inferiority than its literal, yet obviously parodist demonization of women. It’s got all the wrong ideas, and yet it plays them the right way. And it certainly knows exactly what to do with a broomstick. You’ll see what I mean.