Witch Hunt (USA, 2021)

A young woman finds herself torn between conforming to the norm and saving the one thing society has hatred for in the latest film from Elle Callahan.

Claire is a young high school student who finds herself in a predicament. She lives in a world where witches and humans co-exist and the former have begun to once again, become persecuted just for using their powers of magic. Claire resorts to seeing some of her classmates bullying and making fun of anyone they suspect in a witch. The government has even created a new amendment that denies witches the same rights as normal humans.

When Claire meets two girls, sisters Fiona and Shae, she is at first reluctant to befriend the girls because as it is discovered, they are young witches. However, Claire’s mother Marsha is responsible for bringing witches to a save haven via an underground railroad. As Claire’s reluctance grows, she soon befriends Fiona and discovers something within herself. Soon enough, the government’s top bureau to find and destroy witches are not too far. Can Claire overcome all the obstacles and discover the true nature of friendship in this world?

After her 2019 feature film debut Head Count, Elle Callahan returns with a new film whose title is pretty self-explanatory. This meshing of The Craft and The Handmaid’s Tale with something similar to the anti-wizardry of the Harry Potter franchise is actually pretty good because we have a protagonist who finds herself torn between helping her mother’s underground movement to help witches and conforming to the film’s norm of persecuting witches in the modern world.

Gideon Adlon is excellent in the central role of Claire, the film’s protagonist whose mother, played by the great Elizabeth Mitchell, makes her farmhouse a safe haven that leads to an underground railroad for witches in a world where the government persecutes witches. It gets to where an amendment to the Constitution has allowed the persecution of witches and this is a pretty insane topic that tackles various prejudices we deal with today.

Abigail Cowen is great as Fiona, a young witch who while is scared and angry about not being able to used her powers and tries to convince Claire that not all witches are bad. Echo Campbell is also excellent as the shy little sister Shae, who Claire feels bad for as her brothers, who are the same age as the younger witch, refuse to play with her. Meanwhile, the popular girls of the school tend to bully witches or those they think are witches, which is pretty wrong as well, sort of the way Draco Malfoy bullies mudbloods like Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter films because she is not born of pure magic but can still do spells.

In a place where we have good guys and bad guys, Christian Camargo is definitely a bad guy, and a sometimes slick one at that. As a government official, he tries to get his work done but it is when they catch the witches. Instead of burning at the stake like the good ol’ days, one of the punishments involve the witches being forced into a pool where BWI (The Bureau of Witchcraft Investigation) will shoot them dead. However, a nice twist into the story involving our protagonist sets the second half into motion.

Witch Hunt is a pretty good film whose title is self-explanatory. Elle Callahan triumphantly returns thanks to an excellent young cast and a story similar to what we are used to in the real world when it comes to prejudices but done in an old school way used in a modern world. Definitely worth checking out.

WFG RATING: B

Momentum Pictures presents a Defiant Studios production in association with Kodiak Pictures. Director: Elle Callahan. Producers: Maurice Fadida and Eric B. Flesichman. Writer: Elle Callahan. Cinematography: Nico Aguilar and Tommy Oceanak. Editing: Nick Garnham Wright.

Cast: Gideon Adlon, Elizabeth Mitchell, Abigail Cowen, Echo Campbell, Christian Camargo, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti, Lulu Antariksa, Natasha Liu, Anna Grace Barloew, Ashley Belle, Sadie Stratton.

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