Written & Directed by Colin Clarke
Starring: Dave Juehring & Valerie Meachum
A small community lives in fear of the satanic evil that festers within the dark forests that surround their small village. One night, a love-struck villager ventures into the oppressive woods in search of forbidden magic and ancient rites. To aid them, the townsfolk enlist the aid of William Thatcher Blake, a witch hunter whose arrival stirs a cauldron of terror that threatens to engulf them all in a bloody pit of horror!
If you’re going to spend just a few minutes on a short film – why not make it as evil as humanly possible? Don’t worry, because that’s exactly what Colin Clarke has done. All the set up you need is there in the synopsis, anything else would be spoiling it for you. Illuminated by glowing hot embers, the title screen fades in, followed by an atmospheric full moon hanging brightly in the sky. Call me a sucker, but I get excited by powerful imagery. If the story has no legs, it’s all posturing, but this is certainly not the case for Witchfinder.
Thick fog caresses the earth as it languidly absorbs the night, offering nocturnal subterfuge to the darkness inside the heart of man. A burning desire, a need that cannot be naturally fulfilled must move on to a darker resource; the power of Satan. This isn’t some coven of Hollywood witches, this is one devastatingly powerful witch, and blood and coin is all she requires. Obviously, the film doesn’t end well for the love-struck man mentioned in the synopsis. During his ritual, the local witch hunter, William Thatcher Blake, a puritan family man, finds and passes judgement on the pair. In his holiness, he lacks foresight, and his job will soon become his bane.
Actor, Dave Juehring, does a fine job of portraying the judge, jury, and executioner, but the 18 minutes are stolen by The Witch, Valerie Meachum. I love it when an obvious fiend is about to die, but still acts impudently enough to declare her adversary dead by the hand of Satan before they meet their maker. Like I mentioned, I’m a sucker for this kind of old school evil approach. If you’re going to be in league with evil, it’s hard to partner better than Satan. Blake soon finds the witch’s curse to be all too real, and her revenge is obtained. Not content to just harm Blake, her curse permeates the Thatcher home.
Witchfinder is 18 minutes of old school story and presentation wrapped in a shiny contemporary package. The acting, the atmosphere, the adherence to Hammer-like sensibilities makes this the most enjoyably evil short I’ve seen in years. Make sure you watch it until the end – even the credits are a visual treat that impresses the power at hand.
Witchfinder premieres on 4/20 at the Panic Fest in Kansas City, MO. You can find more details at panicfilmfest.com. Stay tuned to lefthandhorror.com for an interview with writer/director, Colin Clarke.