Witching and Bitching (3 stars)

Witching and Bitching

Alex de la Iglesia's action-horror-comedy starts well but stumbles halfway through

Cult director Alex de la Iglesia owes a lot to Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn in this fast-paced action-horror-comedy. As with FDTD, Witching and Bitching picks up with a gang of crooks on the run following a heist. Instead of hiding out in a strip club full of vampires though, they end up in the funereal border town of Zugurramurdi – a sort of Spanish Salem, historically infamous for its witch trials.

The opening act of the film is a triumph – the heist (foreshadowed by a Macbeth-esque prologue) sets a tone of frantic action peppered with shotgun blasts of laughter that doesn't let up for a good 30 minutes. It also sets up the lead trio – hapless dad Jose (Hugo Silva), put-upon cab driver Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez) and immature himbo Antonio (Mario Casas) – as three morons who blame all that's wrong in their lives on women, not realising their own extreme culpability.

Unfortunately, the film takes their side, and as our heroes blunder through acts two and three, we discover that all women really are witches (or something that rhymes with it). The comedy also takes a cheap turn – sexed up younger witch Eva (Carolina Bang) turns Jose and Antonio into bickering schoolboys straight out of a Carry On farce, while a pair of drag-witches lower proceedings to Dame Edna levels. The effects-heavy finale goes some way to reinforcing the film's horror credentials, and a minor epilogue revives a dash of comedy, but it's an imperfect end to an adventure that started off so well.

Reviewed as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2014.

Witching and Bitching Trailer (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi)

Witching and Bitching (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi)

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • Spain / France
  • 1h 44min
  • Directed by: Álex de la Iglesia
  • Cast: Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Pepón Nieto

Three crooks – hapless dad Jose (Silva), put-upon cabbie Manuel (Ordóñez) and immature himbo (Casa) – on the run from a heist, find themselves in the witch-ridden border town of Zugurramurdi. After a triumphant first act, the film dumbs itself down, and an effects-heavy finale and modestly funny epilogue don't redeem the…