Aki Vs. Evil: The Love Witch

Not in a hurry? Well, here’s a movie for you.

It’s not actually slow cinema, but as it tries to appear like a 70s horror movie and succeeds nicely at it, it does take it’s time, just like the movies back then.

Spoilers.

Elaine has just divorced and is looking to start a new life in a new town, but she also needs a new man. Gladly, she happens to be a love witch and knows all the ways to find one. Her magic just doesn’t really work quite the way she would like it to.

Again, if you didn’t know better, you could easily mistake this for a 70s movie. It has the color saturation, acting, wardrobe, design and pretty much everything you would expect from such a movie, except of course that it was made in a very different context. If you didn’t know that you might read the movie very differently. Even the Renaissance Fair they visit at one point is very 70s in how it’s depicted (and it’s actually kind of great). Of course, if you pay enough attention, you’ll note the exaggerations, which do betray it’s modern origins. They are subtle, but they are there.

Elaine doesn’t really seem like someone who would need to use magic to find a man. She is very beautiful and outgoing, so it seems mostly to be a confidence things, but as the movie is set in the 70s and is also looking to convey similar sentiments on femininity, Elaine’s outlook is based on how the 70s satanists saw the world. I don’t think the movie in itself pushes any feminist idea beyond presenting them, which I guess is a form of pushing them, but is also more palatable for certain audiences. On the other hand, Elaine also carries trauma from sexual abuse.

There’s a book called Satanism and Witchcraft by Jules Michelet, which depicted witchcraft as a last resort for women in the Middle Ages. Women didn’t have any power, so according to Michelet they would worship Satan to have any control over their lives. While the book is – let’s say – inaccurate, it was a sympathetic look at witches and probably very unique in 1862 when it was published. Here, Elaine tries to have some control over her life through magic, but we also see that the whole idea of witchcraft has largely been co-opted by men to have sex with younger, impressionable women. While Elaine definitely has interest in empowering herself through magic, she has in the past also been less than willing participant in some of the rituals.

Is there much of a difference if Elaine uses magic to make certain men feel attraction towards her? Isn’t that a kind of a rape as well? It’s a vicious cycle: The witches push women into sex, which leads them to feel inadequate and they in turn force men into sex through magic. Again, Elaine (or Samantha Robinson) is beautiful enough not to need such methods, but that doesn’t make her use of them any less immoral.

There is also a weird subplot of anti-witch bias. Apparently there is a truce between witches and the locals, but not all the townfolk are happy with it. Their relationship to this different religion is actually quite hostile. The problem is that unlike certain religions real people are afraid of, the witches are actually potentially dangerous, as we see from Elaine’s actions. I don’t think the director-screenwriter wanted to convey this idea, but there it is.

Towards the end of the movie, the anti-witch contingent of the town attempts to gangrape Elaine, which would suggest that they don’t really believe in the human rights of these people, meaning that they actually think the witches are less than people. Elaine is being accused of murder at that point, but that doesn’t really make rape acceptable. On the other hand, you could also make the case that this is just a side effect of Elaine’s magic. Her two attempts at seducing men through magic have already lead to two deaths.

Her magic also leads her to lose the man she could have gotten. There’s a mock wedding in the middle of the movie between Elaine and Griff, the detective looking into the death of Elaine’s first victim. Of course, for Elaine this is not only a fun thing to do at the Ren-Fair. The symbolism is very important to her as a practitioner of magic. In the end, after Griff has also died because of her, she does imagine returning to that moment and that it was their real wedding.

Again, I should warn you that this is quite slow and you should probably see a few horror movies from those days before watching this. It is a good movie and also interesting in many ways. At least it’s a nice view of the 70s filmmaking if nothing else.

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