Movies featuring witches as protagonists tend to be quite progressive but few wear their feminism on their sleeve quite like THE DEVONSVILLE TERROR. Ulli Lommel’s 1983 film tells the violent story of a town built on torturing women, and at the culmination of a deadly inquisition, a woman burned at the stake places a curse on the Devonsville men that will follow their descendants for the next 300 years.
Though she lives under the sea, this half-human half-octopus sorceress embodies many traits of the classic witch.
Josephine Decker’s dreamy film reimagines details from the life of author Shirley Jackson and explores the tumultuous months spent writing her second novel HANGSAMAN. Both HANGSAMAN and SHIRLEY follow writers who use witchcraft to find their voices in communities with rigid social hierarchies.
THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE is ostensibly a story about death. André Øvredal’s terrifying film follows Austin (Emile Hirsch) and Tommy (Brian Cox), a father-son team of coroners tasked with examining a body found partially buried beneath a brutal crime scene. Rather than discover and report her tragic story, they inadvertently awaken a powerful witch hellbent on reclaiming her own autonomy.
When most people imagine a spell, they picture an old hag stirring a bubbling cauldron after throwing in the eye of a newt or moss from a local graveyard. While this is certainly a possibility, most spellwork is much more grounded. SUSPIRIA (2018) includes four instances of spells in which dance is used to channel intention, each involving a ritual to charge the invocation.