The Noon Witch (2016) Polednice | LFF 2016
later inspired an 1896 symphonic poem by Antonin Dvorak.
DIR: Jiri Sadek | 90min | Horror | Psychodrama | Czech Republic.
Sun-baked cornfields make for an unusual setting in Czech director Jiri Sadek debut feature which takes inspiration from a folkloric poem by Karel Jaromír Erben. With echoes of Philip Ridley’s twisted tale The Reflecting Skin this slim but imaginatively-crafted psychodrama is permeated by a sinister tone of baleful remorse.
A grieving woman Eliska (Anna Geislerova) and her young daughter Anetka (Karolina Lipowska) move back to her husband’s birthplace in a remote country village where they hope to start a new life in a dilapidated cottage. Eliska has not yet told Anetka that her father will not in fact be joining them – or that he is dead. And this monumental lie is pivotal to the toxic dynamic that slowly develops between the pair, fuelled by the daughter’s festering resentment and her mother’s growing guilt.
Plagued by sweltering heat and unwelcome support from the invasive locals, the two get off to a difficult start. Their neighbours consist of a sexually predatory (and married) odd job man and the Mayor’s mentally unstable wife (Daniela Kolarova) who killed her only son, and warns of ‘The curse of the Noonday Witch’, which is about to strike again.
Sadek echews the usual blood and gore settling for jump cuts and macabre visions of a goulish black-hooded figure, and it’s clear from the start that Eliska’s and her daughter’s psychological state are to blame for these negative vibes and despite convincing performances the dialogue is often trite and mostly redundant. Where the film triumphs is in Alexander Surkala’s florid 35mm cinematography that glows resplendently particularly during the impressive solar eclipse scene. MT
SCREENING DURING BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL UNTIL 16 OCTOBER 2016