The Noonday Witch (Polednice)London Film Festival 2016
8th October 2016 6.30pm at ICA Cinema
10th October 2016 9.00pm at Curzon Soho
When thinking of horror movie settings, they are often associated with dark, unwelcoming, shadowy places. Light tends to be used to represent safety and reassurance, while darkness reflects the opposite. However, director Jiří Sádek’s The Noonday Witch (Polednice) attempts to reject this tradition and prove that the remote Czech countryside setting can be equally unsettling in the golden, sun-soaked daytime as it can be at night.
The Noonday Witch tells the story of a mother, Eliska (Anna Geislerová) and her daughter Anetka (Karolína Lipowská), seeking a “fresh start” in a quiet rural village where Eliska’s late partner once lived. Eliska is keeping a dark secret from Anetka – she has not yet told her that her father is dead. Anetka consistently inquires about his whereabouts throughout the drama, and the tension rises as Eliska avoids the subject, making Anetka suspicious. When she eventually finds out the truth, their relationship begins to crumble – but this is the least of their troubles. A mysterious figure in the cornfields appears to be edging ever closer towards the family, with sinister intentions. But is the threat real or just the result of a mother’s increasingly fragile mentality?
Using themes very reminiscent of The Woman in Black and The Babadook, The Noonday Witch depicts a troubled family relationship and a mother’s descent into madness, mixed in with elements of mythical folklore, superstition and hints of supernatural entities. Superb cinematography, a beautiful rural setting, and a very talented cast make the picture an aesthetically-pleasing experience, with a particularly haunting soundtrack. However, when it comes to character development,The Noonday Witch occasionally struggles, leaving certain questions about Eliska and Anetka unanswered. And though it does a fantastic job of creating tension and contrasting a very dark storyline with a tranquil, natural setting, many of the film’s narrative and stylistic components are ones that have ultimately already seen before.
The Noonday Witch is undoubtedly a visually captivating film with some very strong visual moments, but it feels as though it should have shown more daring and been more experimental. Nonetheless, it is worth a watch and is an excellent insight into the promising talents currently emerging from independent Czech cinema.
The Noonday Witch (Polednice) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for The Noonday Witch (Polednice) here: