Creating effective cinema can be a daunting and arduous process with little to no reward. I have respect for real filmmakers who attempt to achieve something with their work. Witchfinder is impressive and writer director Colin Clarke shows great promise.
Witchfinder focuses on a nameless evil lurking in a small town. John Hawthorne (played by Travis Worthy) is in love but the object of his affection does not return his feelings so he visits a hag known in town to have strange powers. Disrupting the proceedings is witch hunter William Thatcher Blake and his force of righteous men. They seize the necromancer and Hawthorne and sentence both people to death. Things seem to go smoothly but little does Blake know, Satanís power runs deep.
Witchfinder is a wonderful gem of a short film. It accomplishes what it sets out to do with aplomb. The total running time is under a half hour but watching it you will feel as if the time flies by in five minutes. The acting is top notch, the effects are magnificent and the production value is astounding. Once the film starts it never relents until the gripping finale. The film is set in the 1800s and the set, costumes, accent and dialogue all feel surprisingly authentic.
It should be noted that the filmís influences are very apparent. The scene where the mysterious witch is sentenced to die is eerily reminiscent of the masterful Mario Bava. While it isnít theft or imitation, it is clearly evident where director Clarke got his inspiration. This is as much complement as it is critique. The suspense scenes have power and they are scary.
Talking about short films can be difficult because horror is so diverse. Budgets can vary wildly from the microcosmic to the grandiose. While Witchfinder is by no means cheap, it is obviously an independent production. It doesnít feel glossy or overproduced and the fact that it is so well accomplished is impressive in and of itself.
Like most short films the ending is a mixed bag. The film doesnít have a defined beginning, middle and end. It feels like a segment in an anthology or an appetizer for a bigger meal. This is not a negative insomuch as it is a regret. The film is over much too soon and I look forward with great zeal to future projects from Daredevil Films and director Colin Clarke.