.Scarlet; The Love Witch
“Love me…Love me…Love me!”
Scarlet red fingertips clutching a blood coated dagger, as the raven-haired beauty pulls the knife out of her lover’s chest, she whispers euphorically, “love me…love me…love me!”
Released in 2016, The Love Witch is a femme-fatale meets feminist film that turns the sexy witch archetype on its head. Inspired by 1960s pulp novels, 1970s campy b-horror movies, and a slew of cinematic references such as Hitchcock, Fassbinder and Romero; the story focuses on Elaine, a witch who uses sex magic and turns it into love magic-theoretically. She lures unsuspecting men with witch brews and seductive dancing but her love spells become too powerful and end up killing these men.
Anna Biller is the writer, director, costume, and set designer of this visually striking horror-comedy. It took Biller seven years to create this world sewing all the costumes herself using vintage patterns, painting and building the sets and scouring antique stores to bring her vision to life. At first glance, the movie looks like it came straight from the vintage archives but there are tiny modern touches – a cell phone casually held, or a modern BMW driving past – that immediately remind you that it is in fact filmed in present day. These small juxtapositions add to the magical surrealism of The Love Witch.
What makes this movie so compelling, beyond the visuals and costumes, is the commentary on the internal female struggle. We (female or otherwise) viewers can resonate with the frustrations of sexist double standards: the demand of sexualizing women for men’s pleasure, the irony of punishing women who embrace that sexual power that is thrust upon them, and the ever-present struggle to change and sacrifice yourself just for love and acceptance.
The Love Witch is a must-see for cinephiles, fashion enthusiasts, and protesters of the patriarchy!