The Old Ways
Director Christopher Alender blends supernatural and body horror to bone-crunching effect in The Old Ways, a chilling horror outing that has its roots in Latin-American folklore. The premise sees journalist Cristina (Brigitte Kali Canales, who gives a solid performance here) travel to her childhood home of Veracruz, Mexico to investigate stories of witchcraft and superstition surrounding jungle ruins. Once there she’s kidnapped by locals and held captive in a cell. They inform her that a demon is inside her and an exorcism is needed. Though it’s questionable whether she is possessed at first, any ambiguity about it is quickly tossed aside and Cristina sees just how real this presence is.
Alender, whose resume includes being an executive producer for horror gems Southbound and The Mortuary Collection, is quick to get to the flesh of his film. A short prologue sets the tone for a thrilling ride before we meet Cristina with a bag over her head and her captors (Sal Lopez and Julia Vera). She’s shackled to the wall and forced to drink goat mill. After the first of many bizarre rituals the fun starts as the demon begins to make itself known. Its arrival is announced by disconcerting visions that make creative use of imagery and sound to unsettle, alongside moments of stomach-churning body horror. As the malevolent force gets stronger, so too do the encounters. And while there are a handful of jump scares present, their use never feels cheap – a rare treat in modern scary movies.
Everything builds to a nerve-shredding climax that fully commits to its premise. But there’s still half an hour worth of runtime remaining when the dust settles and Allender doesn’t seem to know what to do with this time. New twists are added at this point which take the flick in interesting new directions, though these would have far more beneficial if they were implemented much earlier in the script to give them the proper time to be developed. If this had been the case, there’s no telling what kind of twisted joys could’ve come to fruition.
The Old Ways is a highly entertaining new spin on the exorcism genre that has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, this potential is unfulfilled due to intriguing plot developments occurring far too late to make them worth it.
The Old Ways does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for The Old Ways here: