(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR! It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet. So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR! She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Thanksgiving, November 24th! Will she make it? Keep checking the site to find out!)
I recorded Amish Witches on October 29th, off of Lifetime. I recorded it even though I was watching it at the time. That’s my usual practice when it comes to Lifetime and SyFy films but what’s interesting is that I actually rewatched Amish Witches immediately after it ended. That’s right — I watched this movie twice in one night and yet I still could not bring myself to actually review the damn thing. In fact, the only reason that I’m reviewing it now is because I desperately need to get rid of it so that I can make room on my DVR. As far as Amish Witches goes, there’s just so little to say about it.
I attempted to live tweet this film twice. During my first attempt, the best tweet that I could come up with was:
That should tell you about how uninspiring Amish Witches was.
I then did a special live feed for my friends on the west coast and, even with the advantage of having already seen the film, I still couldn’t come up with anything better than:
Seriously, it was a tragic state of affairs!
Anyway, I have now sat through Amish Witches three times and it’s still a struggle for me to really understand what the point of the film was. Supposedly, it’s based on a true story. In order to convince us of how truthful it all is, the film does the whole found footage thing. A film crew is shooting a documentary about an Amish sect with the local Brauchau dies. Brauchau is apparently the Amish term for witch. What’s interesting is that my closed captioning insisted that the Amish weren’t saying Brauchau and, instead, they were saying Bruja. Bruja, of course, is the Spanish word for witch and I have to admit that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the Amish would be speaking Spanish.
(In the end, I believe it was an issue with whoever transcribed the film’s dialogue and not with the film itself.)
Anyway, because the Brauchau was being shunned, she is not buried on consecrated ground and she is also buried in black. (Apparently, Amish in good standing are buried in white.) Not even the Bishop comes to the funeral! Soon, strange things start to happen around the Amish village. It’s supposed to be scary but, for the most part, it’s just loud noises and occasionally mysterious finger prints showing up on a window pane. Could it be that the spirit of the Bauchau is upset over her unconsecrated burial!?
Well, wouldn’t you be?
Anyway (and yes, I realize that I’m using that term a lot but this is one of those films that just makes you yell, “Anyway!”), Amish Witches is a slow-moving film that doesn’t really add up to much. Lifetime premiered several horror-themed films for Halloween but, as Amish Witches demonstrates, Lifetime may not be the right channel for a true horror film. Amish Witches features a lot of people screaming and, since it’s found footage, it does the whole shaky cam thing but it never adds up to much. Since you know you’re watching a Lifetime film, you also know that nothing truly terrifying is going to happen. There’s no risk of anyone getting eaten by a zombie in between commercials for Dance Moms and AARP. There’s a shot of a hanging body at one point but that’s pretty much it.
As I mentioned, Amish Witches is a found footage film and, in many ways, its epitomizes everything that I tend to despise about that genre. It does all the usual tricks — out-of-focus shots, shakey hand-held stuff, and plenty of “Are you getting this!?” dialogue but it still never feels in any way authentic.
Speaking of authentic, you have to feel bad for the Amish. Because people assume that they’ve rejected the outside world, they’re an easy target for bad movies. After all, filmmakers tend to assume, they’re never going to see the movie so they’re not going to complain, right? If you want to see a real documentary about the Amish, I suggest tracking down a 2002 film called Devil’s Playground. It’ll change everything that you assume when you hear the word “Amish.”