“Witching & Bitching” had a brief theatrical run in Houston this past week at Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park.
A group of people dressed as street performers rob a pawn shop, but the majority of them are either caught by the police or caught in the crossfire of a shootout. The leader, a man dressed as a silver Jesus named Jose (Hugo Silva) and another man named Antonio (Mario Casas) who disguised himself as a green plastic soldier escape only to find themselves on the run from a hefty jail sentence.
The common thread for intertwining characters is women; more specifically women who are difficult to get along with and who are making the lives of these men very miserable. Jose is just trying to find a way out of paying alimony to his ex-wife even if it means including his son Sergio (Gabriel Angel Delgado) in the heist plans. Antonio is in over his head with a beautiful lawyer who is always working while he has no job. He wants to do something that will make his girlfriend proud. Manuel (Jaime Ordonez), the driver of the taxi Jose and Antonio are using to flee to France, has nothing but women in his life who have treated him poorly.
Along their journey to freedom, the three men have to pass through a small town well-known for being a hiding place for cannibalistic witches and their night only gets worse from there.
If “Witching & Bitching” was anything like Alex de la Iglesia’s last film “The Last Circus,” then its audience would be in store for surreal visuals, an incredible score, and most importantly two hours of unpredictability. Unfortunately, “Witching & Bitching” decides to be much more absurd rather than an intriguing tragedy of horror.
The lighting is visually striking as soon as the film begins as Eva (Carolina Bang) rides her motorcycle through a forest during the day. The sun’s light leaks through the holes in the branches of trees to create this optically pleasing opening scene. The colors and costumes during the heist sequence are also incredibly vibrant, but it’s disappointing that the gore you see here is all you get in the entire film.
Jose’s ex-wife Silvia (Macarena Gomez) overreacts to an extent that is mind boggling and completely frustrating. Not only is she the worst nurse in existence, but she outruns a couple of cops solely because she realizes her son is part of her husband’s heist. Hellacious women and complaining about them in length are the bread and butter of the film, which leads one to believe that Mr. Iglesia has likely had it rough with the opposite sex over the years.
The horror-comedy is somewhat compelling at first with a shootout that sees someone dressed as Spongebob shot until their last breath and a car chase in a taxi culminating with one of its passengers being tied up and thrown in the trunk. Around the time Jose and Antonio start drooling over and competing over Eva’s affection is where things go downhill. Witches begin crawling on ceilings, male characters make out with each other, and a giant, blind, obese woman with breasts that sag so low that it’s a safety hazard for everyone within a three-mile distance stomps into the picture only to begin eating people.
“Witching & Bitching” is an overly bizarre film that does fit Alex de la Iglesia’s repertoire, but at the same time pushes the boundaries of fun and outrageous which results in a ludicrous atmosphere. “Witching & Bitching” is essentially “The Wicker Man” if Sam Raimi got a hold of the rights and directed it.