SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Writer-director Elle Callahan’s Witch Hunt is the best X-Men movie ever made, and it has nothing to do with that franchise at all. In the United States, witches and witchcraft, which are real in this universe, are outlawed. So, witches and their families try to flee south to Mexico, where just existing as themselves isn’t a crime. However, the Bureau of Witch Investigation (BWI) rounds them up before they cross the ever-higher wall to freedom.
As such, several well-meaning people have opened their homes to help hide witches on their journey to safety; Martha (Elizabeth Mitchell) is one such person. She hides witches in the walls of her house until “water jug” delivery drivers show up to drop off or pick up “water jugs.” Martha’s younger sons, twins Corey (Cameron Crovetti) and George (Nicholas Crovetti), aren’t too phased by the ever-rotating people in and out of the house, though they make little effort to get to know or play with their guests.
“…several well-meaning people have opened their homes to help hide witches on their journey to safety…”
Teenager Claire (Gideon Adlon) is not pleased with her mother’s ways, knowing how dangerous it is to harbor witches. Things become even tenser at home when sisters Fiona (Abigail Cowen) and Shae (Echo Campbell) are forced to stay longer than expected. BWI Agent Hawthorne (Christian Camargo) is hot on their trail, but in befriending Fiona and pushing her brothers to play with Shae, Claire discovers her true self.
Witch Hunt is not subtle in the slightest, which might irk some who wish for a more balanced view of socio and political upheaval. But, much like Marvel’s famous series, Callahan is smart enough not to bludgeon the audience in every scene. The politics are laid out in the beginning, and every character acts in accordance to or rebelling against, against those amendments in a way that makes sense for them. A neighbor knocks on the door to drop off a pie or some such, and the way Martha switches gears and parrots the fear of witches back to the lady on her doorstep helps ground the world and magic in as much realism as possible.
While more background history on the hows and whys of making witches and witchcraft illegal (did the Salem Witch Trials turn into a massacre, scaring citizens for all time?) would be nice, Callahan does do a great job of melding the mundane with the mystical. A moment at a bar involving a blackout and floating stools is about the biggest things ever get, which helps the audience believe in this world.
"…the best X-Men movie ever made..."