FANTASY; 2hr 4min
STARRING: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson
Witchy business: Ehrenreich and Englert
Witchcraft is a blessing wrapped in a curse in writer-director Richard LaGravenese’s lavishly wiggy film of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s 2009 young-adult novel. It’s a blessing because besotted high-schoolers Ethan and Lena (Ehrenreich and Englert) are great together in the way of brainy, introspective teenagers everywhere — although there aren’t that many in residence in Gatlin, South Carolina. And it’s a curse because Lena and her nutjob family of “Casters” have pressing performance issues.
Like her vampy cousin Ridley (Rossum) before her, Lena is threatened by a curse that could take her to the dark side on her upcoming 16th birthday. Ridley is already there, with her mischief-making attitude and killer dress sense. Lena’s disconcertingly dapper Uncle Macon (Irons) is determined that his niece won’t follow, but it’s unlikely he can protect her from her diabolical sorceress mother, Sarafine (Thompson, deftly playing two roles), who slams the Mommy into Dearest.
The witchiness is deliriously creepy, its bad girls electrified with spite. And the two kids are all right; as resolute in the face of cosmic chaos as only young adults can be. Mix that up with snatches of Southern-fried humour and it’s quite some cocktail when the fire and brimstone are boiling.