I don’t write new-release reviews very often. But then again, not so often a modern movie comes along leaving me compelled to spread the love and also embodies everything this website is about- NOSTALGIA. So of course, on the heels of a recent viewing of FLINCH, or “The Girl Who Didn’t Flinch”, most appropriately on a shiny and beautiful VHS cassette available from the official film’s website, how could I resist?
Flinch first released on VOD platforms in January 2021, and has since made a splash in the film community scene harboring quite a following. Written and directed by Cameron Van Hoy (Tragedy Girls), the film stars Daniel Zovatto, Tilda Cobham- Hervey, Tom Segura, Cathy Moriarty, and Buddy Dures in an American Crime-Thriller that reeks of sweet retro vibes of the Vice era of the 80s.
Right up my alley!
The movie’s premise is simple enough to flow along with and not overly-complicated to leave you astray. Flinch follows overly successful hitman Joe Doyle (Zovatto) into his next target and the plot-point for the movie- the hit of a city-councilman. His supposed ninja skills are all but shattered when his stalking is noticed by the political figure’s assistant Mia (Hervey), of whom Doyle has developed some obsessive feelings for- overcomplicating his mission and well, existence by him having to choose by him honoring his hitman career and covering his tracks accordingly, or allowing her to live. Because Mia didn’t flinch at witnessing Joe’s murderous crime, Joe takes this as sign from above and holds her hostage for her own “protection”. Pretty wild however, without spoilers, the film does explain the importance of the “flinching” aspect-given the movie its of course, important title.
The film provides plenty of gore, action, and suspense paving the way for all genres of cinema to enjoy. Character development isn’t overly saturated and leaves you with just enough to be satisfied and not annoyed that it’s cutting into the main plot points. There’s a few sexy moments that hover over into cringe territory, but hey if you’re into that sort of thing, then this is something that won’t even phase you.
However, what I really thought to be stand-out was the beautiful visualizing aspect of Flinch. The movie is just so damn pretty to look at. Paired with a stylish synth soundtrack, Flinch is definitely something that should be on your watchlist in 2021. Or hell, how about now?! Here’s the amazon link to check out!
Teen Witch is one of those movies from my childhood that no matter what I’m doing or how many times I’ve seen it, if it’s on the TV-you best believe I’m throwing my hair in a halfway side ponytail, grabbing my crystals and watching the shit out of it.
Growing up, my inner-self bonded with this film not so because it was a cheesy tween/teen flick with a catchy witch premise, (and some even catchier tunes). But because I deeply resonated with the craft before I even fully understood it or knew what the hell I was even feeling. And even further, identified with the character Louise, played by actress Robyn Lively (older sister of Blake Lively) Understandably, I was a child and living in a very Roman-Catholic Italian household that I didn’t really connect spiritually with. Even worse, was my birth mother’s sudden devotion to strict Christianity after a long stay away at a rehab center. Of which, was not only very much pushed on me no matter how I felt about it, but that it was expected me to follow this suit. Long story short, I was a pretty large disappointment to her in that aspect. I always felt uncomfortable. Out of place. The black sheep concerning religion in my home. I loathed it and felt like an awkward cow every time I had to go to church, or even simply say a prayer at dinner.
Yes. I’m an out and proud Witch. And I can proudly claim that title as, like our sisters before us, have dealt with many painstaking trials and tribulations that truly tests your strength in the human existence; along with sharing knowledge and helping those along the way to those who legitimately seek it. It’s like a rite of passage for us and all apart of the journey. Up until a few years ago, I was living in the “Broom Closet” for fear of not only my very catholic family giving me all the grief-especially my father who expressed to me during my young teens when he found my Wiccan books hidden away in my room, lose his ever-loving mind on me and proceeded to trash my materials; forbidding them in his home. Of course, this had upset me to no end. And for it to happen AGAIN in my early twenties with an angry, and physically/mentally abusive ex with him burning everything related to the craft, it seemed I was being punished for trying to be myself; and nothing more.
Pretty shitty feeling.
Anyways, it wasn’t until I fully felt safe in my life to blossom into the person I am today- strong and unapologetically ME. Gotta say it’s a breathe of fresh air whereas prior, felt like strangulation. And ultimately, that’s what Teen Witch is all about. BEING HAPPY BEING YOURSELF. No matter what anyone thinks or says. And with witchcraft, the Pagan way, and everything connected to it becoming such a hot trend these days, I feel like this film which I just adore, is perfect for those young curious girls looking to connect with a relatable character in the pop culture film sense.
Teen Witch may have turned out to be a MASSIVE flop theatrically (grossing a whopping $3,875 opening weekend), but that didn’t stop it from becoming a cult classic. Originally written as a follow-up to 1985’s Teen Wolf, I personally caught my first viewing of the film on the Disney channel’s prime time line-up. And it’s since become one of my favorite childhood pieces to vomit all the nostalgic fuzzies all over the place.
The story centers around Louise Miller, an underwhelming teenager with about as much self-esteem and fashion sense as well, the rest of us at that age. Unless you were a Randa- in which case GTFO. I kid, I kid. But seriously, we all felt awkward at some point in the game.
Anyways, poor Louise can’t seem to catch a break either from her walking calamity social status, her snotty as hell little brother Ritchie (played by Joshua John Miller-son of The Exorcist‘s Jason Miller), or the fact the dreamy Brad Powell doesn’t even know she’s alive. That is until after one particularly embarrassing day, she stumbles upon a psychic shop where she meets Madame Serena (Zelda Rubenstein) and Louise discovers her destiny- that she comes from a powerful bloodline of witches’, and her powers will come to her on her sixteenth birthday- which is coincidentally right around the corner. And sure enough, strange things begin to happen within the power of her words, granting her the ability to pretty much, have whatever she wants. And of course being sixteen, what do we all want- to be popular!
And so it is…
The teen musical drama that many shrug off to the side as a campy 80s’ flick, truly is in many ways outlining a witch’s transition into one’s higher self. It most certainly can be in uniform with ascending into puberty-like in the film, and comes with many challenges of self-doubt, ego-trips, and heartache. As stated above, all witches’ face or will face persecutions, whether emotionally tasking or physical, like our ancestors before us. And they are not pleasant. In a softer manner, this is all relayed in the plot of Teen Witch, intentional or not-and yes I admit I might be looking into it too deeply but bear with me.
The Power Is In The Word
This phrase is stated often in the film, and realistically from a true witches’ POV, there never has been a truer statement. Words hold so much power over us, that if we repeat them enough, negative or positive, they soon become our reality. The golden rule of “be careful what you say”, is one that should be held of the highest regard in the craft. Not to say you can wish someone into disappearance like Louise did with Randa’s creep cousin, but if you keep telling yourself you’re beautiful often enough, you soon believe it; and same goes for negative self-talk that sends you into a spiral of despair and ugliness. Words are the root of manifestoing our lives, and if you believe what you speak, they hold a lot of power.
The Power of Your Soul Is Even Greater
Even when Louise thinks she finds happiness in her words, in her heart she of course isn’t and second guesses everything. The man of her dreams, Brad has taken a serious interest in her. But is it because of her popularity spell? Or does he truly like her for who she is? Well, in true 80s’ “moral of the story” fashion being true to yourself is the most powerful spell of all. After Madame Serena reveals to Louise of her magikal heritage, she soon inherits an amulet that has been connected to her via past lifetimes and has found its way back to her. Serena states that the necklace is the source of powers.
Now while tools and stones are often quite helpful in manifesting our thoughts and desires, they are not the source of the power- as that always and forever resides in you. Louise, without being told so but with an instinct in her own gut, came to this conclusion in her finest hour as well in that oh so happy and musical ending. Which leads me to the point, that being yourself and owning the shit out of it, is the greatest power you can possess.
Oh and spoilers…
Brad still dug her.
Now if you can get past some of those sort of out of place, cringey dance scenes (I’m looking at you We Like Boys) and embrace the internal message of the craft for a baby witch, then it’s a film that will be enjoyed well into your crone years. Speaking of musical numbers though and aside from everything else, as random as it is in the film, seeing Polly have her moment with her crush is one of the most goddamn satisfying things ever in a movie.
Let me start off by stating that I’m fairly certain, I could be the world’s biggest whore for horror film documentaries. To dive into the behind-the -scene encounters involving those who made some of our most cherished genre pictures, is close to Godliness. Also, it totally helps at those Horror Movie Trivia nights. So when I caught wind that Shudder was releasing an documentary exclusively with William Friedkin on The Exorcist, I damn near had a happy anxiety attack as TRUE docs on the film are scarce with the exception of a few under-the-radar specials on networks such as REELZ and A&E.
To put it it mildly, I was pretty excited to see the mastermind Friedkin going pedal to the medal with his infamous visionary experience of Blatty’s novel. And to my delightful surprise, the documentary was A LOT more than a “making of” type deal. So much more…
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist run time sits in at about 105 minutes of an in-depth exploration of Friedkin’s inspirations that led to his directing-style approach for his notable films; including of course The Exorcist. If one ever wanted to sit and pick the brain of the 85-year-old director, this documentary gives you close to everything you would want to know and more. One would even go so far as saying that if you’re an aspiring film-student, than this is basically some free and sound advice from one of the best- so if you’re in that group, might want to put this in your watch queue.
When touching on The Exorcist, this doc will absolutely give even the BIGGEST Exorcist fan a few new nuggets of knowledge one may have not known about the film unless you just so happen to be in Friedkin’s inner-circle. From where exactly the idea of that infamous, iconic image of Merrin on the street cam from, the casting of the actors, (one of which might just blow your mind) and the journey into finding the perfect instrumentals for the picture, this will give everyone a new appreciation for all the painstaking blood, sweat, and literal tears that went into making the horror masterpiece.
Obviously I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but one thing I will say that won’t take away any “eureka moments” is the recurring theme throughout the doc that Friedkin is heavily influenced by the arts of the Renaissance Period which truly gives this doc some really beautiful cinematography and visuals that one usually doesn’t see in well, a horror film documentary. This chronicle of The Exorcist is visually speaking, the prettiest looking-thing I’ve ever seen in this type of arena and I have to really give a shout-out for making this aesthetically appeasing to the eyes as well as keeping me intrigued throughout the duration of the program.
With all that being said, LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST premieres on Shudder November 19th, 2020 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.