Coven (2020)

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If The Craft were to be set in a college environment rather than high school, this film would most likely be the result.

A young coven of witches, the descendants of witches themselves, have had plans for a long time to resurrect a powerful witch named Ashura to meet their needs. Led by the insane Ronnie, perhaps the most hellbent member of the group, their plans to being Ashura back are thwarted when in a fit of rage, Ronnie kills perspective fifth witch Christy as five are needed to bring Ashura back. When Beth, one of the witches, finds out that local student Sophie is also a practicing witch, she is confident she can be the fifth.

At first Ronnie is reluctant and skeptical. However, when Beth proves that Sophie is in fact a witch, Ronnie demands she joins their coven. Meanwhile, Sophie finds herself working with Dr. Lynn, an expert in the supernatural in an attempt to reconnect with her mother. When Sophie finally relents and gives in to Beth, the group does in fact bring Ashura back, who inihibits Ronnie’s body. However, things begin to spiral out of control with Ronnie/Ashura and her girlfriend Jax wreaking havoc. Sophie finally realizes she must stop Ronnie/Ashura and she can’t do it alone.

The 1996 film The Craft is a horror classic set in the high school and involves four witches who ultimately must deal with the consequences of their actions when one sets out to do good. Flash forward 24 years later and set the film in college and this indie horror film offers up something similar and yet amps up some of the terror as well. Writer/lead actor Lizze Gordon not only seems to play homage to the hit film and change the setting, but offers much more to the mix as she plays the good witch out to do things right but adds a bit of a twist to the tale.

At a running time of 81 minutes, the film moves pretty swiftly and for an indie horror film, that’s a plus. There are some twists and turns that keep the film going. For instance, we see a very disappointed Ronnie and her girlfriend Jax do a temporary spell to quell the tension before Sophie’s entrance into the coven. It is like Ronnie being only temporarily possessed, eyes and all, just to make herself satisfied. Kudos to Jennifer Cipolla, who doesn’t have to be on the level of a Fairuza Balk’s Nancy mode of insanity, but makes the role solely her own as there is a bit of the over the top anger until her full possession of Ashura makes her a deliciously evil role. Miranda O’Hare’s Jax goes a bit of that crazy level as well as she proves her loyalty to Ronnie/Ashura and will do anything to protect her.

The most interesting character here is actually Beth, played by Margot Major. She is like a combination of the Neve Campbell/Rachel True characters of The Craft, and is the one who helps brings in Sophie to the coven. However, where Campbell and True remained villains, Major’s Beth ultimately joins Sophie in the battle as she seeks redemption within herself as well as dealing with the consequences of the actions. Terri Ivens gets in at the right moments as Dr. Lynn, Sophie’s mentor whose attempts to help our hero reunite with her mother seem futile at first before realizing her mother may be the possibly key to help Sophie in the battle against Ashura.

There is a major male character in Adam Horner’s James. Thankfully, he’s nothing compared to Skeet Ulrich’s Chris, who was in all essence someone who used Sarah’s feelings to get what he wanted. Here, Horner, who makes the most of his screen time, plays James as a character and potential love interest for Sophie who deeply cares about her and yes, there is a bit of a tease in a scene that looked like it would have been Craft-esque involving James, but thankfully, it veers off in another direction.

Coven is not a rip-off of The Craft, but more like a college-set homage to the film, with some nice twists and turns mixed in that makes good use of its cast and running time. Horror film fans may want to give this a look.

WFG RATING: B

Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Thriller Films production in association with Ignite Pictures. Director: Margaret Malandruccolo. Producers: Justin Jones and Zeus Zamani. Writer: Lizze Gordon. Cinematography: Eduardo Ramirez Gonzalez. Editing: Jason-Christopher Mayer.

Cast: Lizze Gordon, Jennifer Cipolla, Margot Major, Miranda O’Hare, Jocelyn Saenz, Jessica Louise Long, Terri Ivens, Adam Horner, Sofia Skya, Sara Stretton.

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