Movie Review – Witching & Bitching (2013)

2013’s Witching & Bitching, known in Spain as Las brujas de Zugarramurdi, is a horror-comedy co-written and directed by Álex de la Iglesia. José and Tony are two dimwitted, misogynistic men who rob a pawn shop at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol with José’s young son in tow. In their escape they kidnap a taxi driver and the three men bond over their grievances with women, who they claim have emasculated them and broken them down little by little. Unluckily for them, they become the target of a coven of man-hating witches who want José’s son for a sacrifice.

The film is light-hearted and energetically shot, never taking itself too seriously, and succeeds in creating a distinct visual style. Some scenes are genuinely funny and the gross-out humor is used effectively. The characters are colorful if not fully fleshed out, the result of a fairly thin plot that is stretched to its limits. Really, not a great deal happens in this film, and the middle of the movie is mostly the guys running from wall-climbing witches throughout the corridors of a huge Gothic mansion. There is also a love subplot that is terribly forced and entirely unbelievable.

The misogyny of the men is cartoonish and meant to be satire; however, the film never does the job of convincing the viewer that it does not ultimately hold their view. All but one of the females in the film, and there are many, are manipulative, misandrist, evil creatures with no redeeming values. The men may be buffoonish, but they are the clear victims in this battle of the sexes. The only woman to be by the end considered a heroine is still depicted as emotionally unstable and needlessly violent. It’s a message that can’t be shaken after watching the film, and it can’t help but taint one’s perspective of the movie as a whole. The English title doesn’t help matters.

Despite this problem, Witching & Bitching is enough of an entertaining ride that most viewers will likely enjoy it regardless. After all, it won the most awards at the 28th Goya Awards, which honored the best Spanish films of 2013. Admittedly, there are things to admire the audacity of, such as a giant Venus of Willendorf walking around like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. That’s something you don’t unsee.

Grade: C

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