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Hex (2017)

Jaws is not about a shark. The Exorcist is not about a demon. Hex is not about a witch. To be upfront about this, I’m not saying that Hex is in the same league as Jaws and The Exorcist, but there is more ambition in this film than simply being a horror film about a witch.

So, if Hex is not about a witch, what is it about? Hex is about tribalism, religion and a divided nation…it might be set in the 1600s, but George Popov and Jonathon Russell—director and co-director—have given us a film for today.

Set in the midst of the English Civil War, two opposing soldiers are forced into cooperation when they become trapped in a forest controlled by a witch.

The concept is one of Hex’s strengths. It’s simple and intelligent—and has that fairy-tale feel of a dangerous forest with a witch hidden in its depths.

There are some beautiful, lingering shots in Hex—the one that comes to mind is when William Young’s Thomas and Daniel Oldroyd’s Richard are sat together in the camp, not talking, and slowly Thomas shares his food. It’s a great example of storytelling and characterisation without dialogue. As a general rule with Hex, when the dialogue is sparse it’s at its most effective. Unfortunately there are scenes which feel overwritten and could do with that wonderful silent storytelling that they do get right a lot of the time.

There are issues with Hex—in the fight scenes I felt the sound and pacing were a little off, in terms of providing those scenes with the physicality they needed, but this is a film with an estimated budget of £1000 which is extremely tight for a feature film. If you look beyond this what you have is a very interesting folk-horror which is well worth your time.

Hex kept me engaged throughout, I was particularly impressed with Daniel Oldroyd’s performance and I really enjoyed the new slant it takes with witches. There is a bleakness to the ending which put me in mind of Night of the Living Dead and The Wicker Man—and that can only be a good thing.

Overall, while I have some reservations about Hex, I have to say that I enjoyed it, loved the ambition and intelligence of the story and will definitely be keeping an eye out for Popov and Russell’s work and future Rubicon Films releases.

Hermanos of Horror Rating:

Is it a good film? 2/3

Hex is a good film, there are some issues (sound, pacing and some moments of too much exposition in the dialogue), but the concept is great and there are also some lovely moments of silent storytelling.

Did I enjoy it? 1.25/2

Yes. I'm a sucker for a bleak ending, I just wish that some of the dialogue was a bit less on-the-nose.

Would I recommend it? 1.75/2

Definitely- this is an ambitious indie horror with a focus on characters and atmosphere over gore and quiet-quiet-BANG. In terms of horror films about witches it does (unfortunately) fall under the shadow of The Witch (an exceptional modern horror).

Fear factor? 1/3

When Hex gets it right with the tension it's a creepy film, but some of the pacing is a bit off for this to be successful enough.

Total: 6/10

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