The Witches Review The Buff and The Blazer
The 2020 remake of The Witches is an updated time-capsule to the children’s classic from 1990. The original film starring Angelica Houston was a darker adaptation, but the new version is scary in other ways. The 2020 adaptation is also full of life and classic flavor as it takes place in the 60s. This version of The Witches also touches on the theme of race relations during that era. All of these aspects create a fresh take on a children’s classic that is surprisingly relevant.
Robert Zemeckis’ The Witches is not as dark a film as its 1990 predecessor. For one, the film is much more kid-friendly in appearance as the witches themselves are not as visually frightening. They seem more like a CG cartoon as opposed to the practical hideousness of the witches in the original. Aside from that, the current film has some darker elements of its own. Without diving into spoilers, we will say that the stakes of kids turning into mice are much higher. This film does not shy away from that danger in any way. It is a warning up to the end of the film and is the central element of darkness.
Zemeckis’ take on The Witches also introduces us to a different era than the original. The film takes place sometime in the 60s in Alabama, which is a perfect backdrop. There are subtle elements of voodoo and magic interwoven into the witchcraft elements. The 60s also plays an important visual role. The set designs and costumes harken back to the classic stylings of that era. 60s-era music is also prominent and serves as a diegetic piece of the soundtrack.
Race-relations are also on the table because of the film’s 60s setting. Not surprisingly, this film deals with the tension in a way that avoids too much weight. We find that in this version, witches pray on the impoverished and oppressed populations of children. They do this because their disappearances go seemingly unnoticed. The point highlighted during a flashback that takes place in a black community during the depression-era.
The hotel also plays a vital role in the racial elements in the film. From the very start, we know that the guests are predominantly wealthy white families. As a result, when Grandma (Octavia Spencer) and Grandson (Jahzir Bruno) pull up, they are greeted with shock. With the hotel staff, many of the workers in the lower service positions are black. There is also an underlying racial tension felt between the white and black guests. The film does not dive much deeper into those elements.
Ultimately, the 2020 reimagining of The Witches offers a new take on a classic tale that is worth watching.
The Witches is available on HBO Max!
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