Friday, October 1, 2010

Of Wife or Witch...

Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Starring: Jan White, Ray Laine, Ann Muffly
1972 | United States | R | 104 mins

George A. Romero wasn't afraid to take artistic risks and explore different genres of filmmaking early in his career, even if they did ultimately still involve horror elements. After dabbling in bleak horror with Night of the Living Dead and comedy in There's Always Vanilla, Romero next decided to tackle dark drama. Season of the Witch (also known as Hungry Wives and Jack's Wife) was his third film and is a highly underrated exploration into the horrors of mid-life crisis through the eyes of middle-aged housewife.

Joan Mitchell's (Jan White) life is spiralling away from her. Her husband Jack (Bill Thunhurst) is constantly away from home on business and her teenage daughter Nikki (Joedda McClain) is rebellious and soon leaves home. Seeking solace through close friends, Joan is introduced to witchcraft as a means of exploring her own path via a local tarot reader and soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Haunted by nightmares of being alone and her fantasy of being loved, Joan uses her new-found calling as a witch to seduce a young man (Ray Laine) to fulfil her neglected desires.

Season of the Witch is a slow-burn exploration into the desire to be loved by those around you when those around you seem to ignore that you even exist. While working with an extremely low-budget and inexperienced actors, Romero still manages to flesh out enough social commentary and subtle nuances of lost hope into this story of self-loathing that multiple viewings are encouraged to truly appreciate the layers present. Using the theme of witchcraft to bridge Joan's self-discovery allows both alienation and empowerment to be reflected upon the viewer, and work as a connection into Joan's character and her struggle with her family's sudden disconnectivity.

Often overlooked by reviewers who consider it 'amateur' or 'boring', Season of the Witch is neither of these and is a rather haunting portrait into the confusing and dark world of mid-life crisis through the eyes of a woman. Low-budget production values and amateur acting still can't hinder the talent a young Romero had with creating contrasting characters and realistic situations that any family can experience, and the horrors of wanting and needing. Whether you're a horror fan, a Romero fan, or are just looking for interesting and challenging 'lost' cinema, don't pass up this forgotten gem.

All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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