“Witchwise” is a rare case of a horror film that would have benefited from being longer, whereas most horror flicks suffer from trying to stretch half an hour of plot to 90 minutes.
The story here is that young Andrew discovers that his Aunt is a witch and must try to stop her and free the souls she has trapped in her magic ring. Or at least that is what I thought until reading the back of the DVD which informs me that Andrew actually wants to find the source of her power so that he can keep it for himself. You can really make it about anything you want since the short amounts to little more than a short series of events with little to no explanation.
All we see is Andrew catching a strange light coming from his Aunt’s bedroom while she cooks in the kitchen and going to investigate. In the process he finds a ring with voices crying for help coming from it and is confronted by his Aunt. There is little in the way of dialogue and, since the movie is only 13 minutes long, there is not enough time to have Andrew react appropriately to this situation. It’s pretty much, “Okay, Aunt’s a witch. Cool, moving on.”
Had the film been longer the story could have been more developed and we could have seen Andrew’s growing fear and fascination as he uncovered more about his mysterious relative. It even could have been a fun adventure in the same vein as “The Goonies” or “Monster House”. That is, if it didn’t take itself so seriously.
And here’s the second problem with “Witchwise”. The dark and serious tone of the film is completely at odds with the story it is telling. I mean, the Aunt is in the kitchen, all dolled up in robes with plants in her hair, boiling frogs in a cauldron. She has crooked brooms stashed all over the place, presumably for flying, and she has a glowing magic ring full of human souls. Now, all of the elements absolutely work in a children’s fantasy but cause unintentional laughs in a dark horror.
All that said, “Witchwise” is a technically well made short that has a fun premise. It just really could have used a bit more time in the oven… or cauldron.