The latest expedition into what horror streaming service Shudder has to offer unearthed the bizarre Spanish horror comedy Witching and Bitching.
Spain has been on hand to deliver some truly scary and thrilling films throughout the decades, and we’ve always yearned for more. What we have not tended to see from them is the horror comedy blend so prevalent in other markets. Álex de la Iglesia however serves up this wailing banshee of a film that feels like the Spanish equivalent to a Carry On film.
The basic premise, as IMDB details it, is a gang of jewellery thieves become trapped by a coven of witches. That however does not even scratch the surface of some of the absolutely bonkers developments in the narrative. Jose (Hugo Silva) and Antonio (Mario Casas) start the film robbing a pawn shop of all their gold, aiding them in the robbery is Jose’s son Sergio, whom is caught between his feuding separated parents. During their escape from authorities they hijack a taxi and order the driver Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez) to take them to France. During their escape however they must drive through the town Zugarramurdi which finds them crossing paths with a family of witches intent on taking Sergio. Meanwhile Silvia, Sergio’s mother and Jose’s ex is hot on their heels, with a pair of bumbling cops tracking her down in an effort to find the robbers. What follows is chaos, entertaining chaos.
Maybe it was the language barrier or maybe it’s a cultural thing but the majority of what I presumed to be comedy fell a little flat. It did have its moments as the chaotic nature of proceedings and mad cap events lend themselves to amusement, not to mention the wacky characters raising a wry smile, but it isn’t always bellowing barrel of laughs. What really prevents the film from excelling is it’s far too crammed with side stories that detract from the narrative, and stretch it out far too long. Somewhere within the 112 minute run time is a solid 90 minute adventure bogged down with a romantic side plot, the involvement of unnecessary characters, and some zany narrative. A heist turns into a road trip, which turns into a haunted house escapade, which then turns into something totally out there.
With Witching and Bitching Spain continues to deliver a refreshingly different style of film. Though it isn’t as funny as it could be, with bit to much fat on the bone of the story, it’s still a crazily entertaining watch that caters to fans of foreign cinema.