Jordyn (Paulie Rojas) celebrates her eighteenth birthday, and her aunt Ruth (Nancy Wolfe), who has raised her since birth, has a surprise for her. It’s not a planned surprise either, so it makes it that much more shocking when aunt Ruth stabs herself in the stomach and makes a bloody mess in front of everyone. Jordyn’s troubles don’t end there. There seems to be a woman (Maria Olsen) following her everywhere she goes as well. The closest Jordyn gets to this enigmatic woman is when she shows up at her job one night and scratches her arm leaving what looks like claw marks on Jordyn’s forearm.
Presumably this is the Mark of the Witch that the film’s title refers to and from this point on, Jordyn’s behavior changes drastically. Jordyn is seemingly innocent, a doe-eyed beauty tied to a predetermined fate totally not in her control. She wanders around town suffering from strange hallucinations, and a sense of dread, and her perception of reality utterly distorted. Her sexual desires are heightened and it’s all under the control of the woman from earlier, a witch pulling the strings of Jordyn’s life. This ailment seems almost inescapable and inevitable.
Mark of the Witch is a psychological study of possession and witchcraft done in an ambitious avant garde style that depicts Jordyn’s descent into a world unknown to her. Jordyn’s mental transformation is depicted in such an abstract and fragmented manner that it evokes a sense of disorientation and a window into what it could be like to fall under the spell of witchcraft or demons. Images pull and contract as they become distorted, showcased in slow-motion and tinged in varying hues of psychedelic colors.
Just as jarring as the film’s visuals are the performances, especially that of Paulie Rojas who gives a good performance as the innocent Jordyn, emoting with her eyes an utter desperation as the trapped victim in a world and state of mind that she can’t fully understand. The mysterious woman played by Maria Olsen is phenomenal as the puppet master throughout the film controlling Jordyn’s actions and, seemingly, her fate.
Mark of the Witch is a visually compelling film that explores witchcraft with an eye for the abstract which gives the film a unique and fresh look. Despite being an atmospheric slow-burn, the film compensates by being strikingly visual and deftly unique harboring a plethora of secrets satisfyingly revealed in the third act.
The award winning Mark of the Witch is available to rent or buy on Vudu and Amazon Video. The film has played at numerous awards shows that include: Louisville Fright Night Film Fest (2014), Action on Film International Film Festival (2014), Tabloid Witch Awards, and Seattle International Film Festival, just to name a few.