September 18, 2020

The Witch: Part 1 - The Subversion: Woman-Made

"Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Glinda famously asks upon first encountering Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The same can be asked of Yoon Koo-ja (Kim Da-mi), the high school student who keeps her dark powers under wraps while caring for the enfeebled parents who adopted her after finding her bloody young body in their field when she was young. She seems nice on the surface: She's gets good grades, helps around the farm, and likes to sing a pop version of "Danny Boy." But is that the whole story here? Of course not!

Incorporating a mad scientist (a deliciously evil Jo Min-soo), a stylish henchman (Park Hee-soon), and a pack of teen, English-speaking witches led by a tossel-haired teenybopper (Choi Woo-sik) and his knife-wielding sidekick (Jung Da-eun), Park Hoon-jung's spellbinding, supernatural thriller is a wild grab-bag of scifi elements: diabolical military training programs, psychologically twisted genetic engineering, amped-up generational warfare, and the lone warrior against the system all get their due. That movie also includes a preposterous Star Search-style TV talent contest and a goofball best friend (Go Min-si) who inexplicablly wears a curler in her bangs is icing on the cake. The question remains: Is that cake poisoned? And will we need to see The Witch: Part 2 in order to find out? If the second half is as good as the first, then I'm up for Part 3 and Part 4 as well.