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THE LOVE WITCH (2016) **

Of all the throwback retro-grindhouse movies that have come out in the past decade or so, The Love Witch comes closest to matching the look and feel of its original inspirations. The color scheme, costumes, make-up, and hair all feel like they came out of a Jess Franco film from the ‘70s. That is to say it’s pretty awesome. At least on the surface, that is. Honestly, it’s about as uneven and frustrating as your typical Franco flick.

Samantha Robinson stars as the titular witch who uses spells, magic potions, and other forms of sorcery to make men fall in love with her. She looks great with her long hair and clingy pastel dresses, but her acting is a bit of a problem though. Her line readings are often flat and she doesn’t have much screen presence. She certainly looks the part; I’ll give her that. Too bad the second she opens her mouth, the spell is broken.

The film is gorgeous to look at. Every frame is filled with impeccable costuming, garish lighting, and inventive set design. Since director, producer, and screenwriter Anna Biller did just about everything herself, I have to give her all the credit. She certainly proves herself to be a director to watch.

While she got the tone and look of the film just right, the script is sorely lacking such loving attention to detail. Mostly, the movie revolves around scenes of women sitting around and trash-talking men’s shortcomings before Robinson puts stuff in her date’s drinks and watches them become horny and vulnerable. All of this gets a bit repetitive and frankly, a bit boring.

The exorbitant running time of 120 minutes doesn’t help matters either. I’m sure Biller could’ve cut out whole chunks of this thing and no one would’ve ever noticed. The lame Renaissance Festival scene in particular goes on forever and the awful medieval music gets on your damn nerves.

Still, The Love Witch has its moments. The witchcraft scenes are pretty cool and the scene where she makes a potion using her pee and used tampons is rather gnarly. I just wish the whole thing was shorter, funnier, and had some actual meat to the story.

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