Alex de La Iglesia is fast becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. After having seen his remarkable Here Comes the Devil and the flawed but interesting The Last Circus in years past at the Milwaukee Film Festival, it was a given that I’d be seeing Witching and Bitching at last years same event. My fiancee was even able to score free tickets to the event courtesy of the great people at Milwaukee Movie Talk for a midnight showing of the event on a Saturday.
This was very cool because at the time we had made a yearly tradition out of going to the event always, and catching one Iglesia’s films there. Since at the time I was working late Saturday nights I made arrangements with my co-workers that I’d bring in pizza in exchange for skipping out on work early. It all seemed to be going well until the night of the event when a problematic co-worker decided he wanted to have the night off instead because he was also scheduled to work in the morning. So, he called the manager, in tears, begging her to let him have the night off. The same guy had called in sick every Thursday and Friday during the third quarter of the year, with the week in question being no exception; so long story short, my boss listened to the man-child and rewarded his terrible behavior by letting him the night off and having me stay. Myself and my co-workers spent the night making fun of him, and rightfully so.
However, thankfully the fine folks at Netflix put the movie on their streaming service a couple weeks later, and I finally got over my mentally abusive employer’s shortcomings (thanks beer) a couple weeks ago and finally sat down and watched it. And it is a very entertaining movie.
The film starts off with one of the most insane heists committed to film as a Mexican jewelry store is robbed by town square employees dressed as Spongebob Square Pants, Mickey Mouse, and Jesus Christ. It almost goes off without a hitch, except the person dressed as the Messiah brought his kid along for the trip (he had custody that weekend and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible), and things continue to spiral down from that point on. Iglesia piles on absurdity after absurdity during these opening moments it sets up a very fun, high energy film that pretty much keeps the same pace.
Our anti-heroes get away with the robbery, taking a poor taxi driver hostage, and find themselves in a village full of witches who are planning to use them for a yearly sacrifice. There is a strong, and not subtle at all, subtext about the battle between the sexes going on as the female witches plan to kill the male robbers, and also convert the leaders ex-wife into joining their coven. All sorts of supernatural hijinks ensue, as well as familiar tropes about witches are invoked (i.e. — they try to cook the little boy…which I thought was pretty funny).
I’m always up for a good movie about witches, but they usually aren’t very good. This is one that stands loud and proud with Suspiria, and the 1990 adaptation of Road Dahl’s book The Witches, the latter of which Witching and Bitching shares quite a few similarities with.
Honestly, I was very drunk when I watched this movie, and while it enhanced the experience, I should probably re-watch it sober to make sure some of the things I remember seeing in the film actually happened. This is the perfect midnight movie and I do not appreciate at all my work having stolen this experience from me and I will not let such a thing ever happen again. I will do so knowing that if a guy can call in sick three times a month for over a year with a single reprimand, it’s only fair I get to take a night off.
EDITED 9/25/15: I recently had to quit the occupation mentioned in this review due to a torn chest muscle suffered on the job that they refused to take responsibility for. Go figure.