SXSW 2021: “Witch Hunt”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It would be nice to have magical powers and use them for the greater good – what could be better than that? However, not every magic is good; some are dark and vicious. Regardless of being good or bad, under the new law in modern America, you can’t have either.

The scene is set in America, presumably between 2020 and 2021. Witchcraft is prohibited and if someone is found practising it, they may lose their life. A new wall is being built to stop the immigration of the witches into America, as per the law. Claire, along with her mother and twin brothers, provide shelter to two sisters who try to cross the Southern border. But it’s not that simple as Claire must be careful due to her fight with her own demons she must find a way to defeat if she doesn’t want to succumb to it.

The film opens in New England, where Fiona and her little sister helplessly watch as their mother is burnt to death for practising witchcraft. Then, we are taken to three months later, to Southern California, where the 11th Amendment states, “No Person May Practice Witchcraft in the United States of America.” That’s why Claire’s mother does her best to help the witches, or the surviving children, to avoid prosecution and possible death sentence by helping them cross the border. But the mission gets complicated when the Witch Hunter gets involved who will stop at nothing to eliminate them one by one.

The cast led by Elizabeth Mitchell and accompanied by Gideon Adlon, Abigail Cowen, Cameron & Nicholas Crovetti and Christian Camargo, “Witch Hunt” takes the concept of illegal immigrants or those who seek refuge and turns them into witches. Even the wall proposed by Trump is used in the film as something supposed to protect from the sea of witches. Written and directed by Ellen Callahan, the film wisely uses the heart-aching concern of immigrants and intolerance of Americans towards outsiders. However, it also showcases how some people do the right thing behind the public eye, fighting against the witch hunt to help the minority to survive, strangely, in the land of free, which is ironic, to say the least.

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