While I really do not try to come across as something as a film snob prick (even though I am told I sound like one), occasionally I get a film so cheap looking and sketch that I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of hope for them. There are all levels of obscurity when it comes to underground film but this is actually the first time I reviewed a movie so nebulous that there isn’t even an IMDB entry for it. So join me on this quest for the mythical, mystical Swamp Witch and see if she is actually more than myth. A tough act for certain because even the film that bears her name doesn’t “officially” exist.
At the start of the film, a young pretty sexually active couple is murdered by a witch who leaps from the shadows and lunges from the darkness with much sinister glee and public access camera effects. She quickly makes short work of them both and as the credits roll we are truly become aware as an audience that there is a swamp with a witch in it in perhaps a more meaningful, existential way than just the factual sense of the title. The front cover film blurb (with cryptic, difficult to read “lost in the forest” lettering that obviously owes its stylistic nuance to unintentional oversight) reinforces the dread of the situation. Apparently “There is a 100 year old evil lurking in the swamp…those who go near never come back”. As any reviewer of hundreds of horror films let me just say…”Aiyeee…anything but that”. No, seriously…
The film then settles into backstory. In Jamaica in 1910 a beautiful Jamaican girl named Shona is cursed by an evil voodoo priestess at the behest of a woman who learned of her husband’s attraction to her. While now immortal and looking fine as ever during the day, at night she will become “The SWAMP WITCH” an EC comic looking stereotype who lunges from the shadows and eats off the faces of passerby and main characters in a modern day small Florida Town. Who is the Swamp Witch and how can she be stopped? I have already told you one of these answers (as did the first ten minutes of the movie) so you can hardly accuse me of “spoiling” anything you weren’t meant to hear. As for the conclusion it becomes a race against time as various characters struggle to break the curse before our titular woman in the pointy black hat swoops down and decapitates them for reasons based on adhering to both ancient magic curses and modern day horror movie body counts.
At 105 minutes this film feels as long, sloppy and bristly as a swamp witches broomstick and similarly it’s kind of an unnatural ride. The popular hangout “Fubar” looked like is was shot in someone’s basement, a lot of the digital “decapitation” effects looked like they were engineered digitally in post-production with the swing of a mouse rather than the strike of a blade and the origin story of the “Swamp Witch” herself is all but spelled out in the first few moments of the film and from there she never develops as a really likable or dread inducing player, something that all characters with a film named after them should aspire to be at some point in the movies duration.
However, this film is not total garbage. For one thing the musical score by Cheryl Mayo is so unexpectedly good and aptly thematic it almost seems to set the mood of a particular scene so perfectly that the actor’s lines only seem to come across as unwanted background noise. Another facet that pleased me is that this took time to develop several classical suspense elements amidst its horror show bloodlettings and if they hadn’t given away the identity of the killer in the second scene it might have led to a really suspenseful moment when the creature decided to make herself known to those she was living secretly; quietly among, in the only way she could.
Finally, it is obvious they tried to make something greater than just another senseless “gotcha” creature feature about a backwoods monster that killed every time it was shown onscreen, but it was lacking in both the finer points of chase scenes and sex scenes, leaving me little hope for lust or dread between some of the more ponderous plot expositions.
I laugh at this unknown product, somehow derisively but not at this fledgling studio of Knight Brothers Productions. There is some skill evident here, just not a whole lot of polish. It is my hope that they make enough films to where they can one day chuckle at this review as much as I did while watching their first film.
Extras include nothing, not even a searchable chapter menu.