A Film For Halloween: Pyewacket (2017)

***No spoilers***

With TV channels full of Halloween horror films, I have been recording some of those I have never seen before.

This Canadian film didn’t reach my radar three years ago, so I sat down to watch it yesterday afternoon. One benefit was that I didn’t recognise anyone in the relatively small cast, and had few expectations of it. A Pyewacket is a familiar spirit, mentioned as long ago as the 17th century. It was also the name of Kim Novak’s cat in the enjoyable film ‘Bell, Book, and Candle’ (1958).

Leah is a grungy teenager who hangs around with three friends at her high school. She has a crush on one of the boys, and they all have a great interest in the occult. Her father has died, and her mother is unable to cope following his death. She is still managing to go to work, but drinking heavily, and finding it hard to deal with the usual teenage issues of her daughter. She makes the decision to move away into the countryside, to a lonely house hidden away in some woods.

Leah is furious, angry that she will not be seeing her friends any longer, and having to adjust to a new life in a strange place. As a compromise, her mother agrees to drive her to school and back for the rest of that term, but says she has to change schools after the holidays. Following a heated argument, Leah wishes her mother was dead, and uses one of her occult books to find a spell to conjure up the Pyewacket.

As you might expect, things go badly wrong once she has been in the woods performing the ritual.

This film feels more like a coming-of-age teenage drama, than a horror film. It takes a very long time to build any suspense or scares, but when they come, they are handled deftly, though not that scary at all. The meat of the film is about the fluctuating relationship between mother and daughter following the unexpected death of the husband and father. But the atmosphere following the casting of the spell is very well handled, with the threat of an unseen menace always apparent.

The ending is unexpected, and very well done, though it failed to scare me sufficiently for me to class this as a real horror film. I still think it is worth watching, for the sound performances, and the very good cinematography.

20 thoughts on “A Film For Halloween: Pyewacket (2017)

  1. I watch horror films online pretty often, and have a good many in my DVD collection. You’ll probably laugh, but I especially enjoy the teenage Gothic film, “The Craft,” starring Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True. It’s not scary, but it’s spooky cool. Another favorite of mine is the very eerie “Suspiria” (the original starring Jessica Harper). One of the most effective horror/slasher films I’ve seen online is “My Bloody Valentine.” I have too many horror films in my DVD collection to list, but among them are franchises like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Evil Dead.” I also have lots of haunted house films, vampire/werewolf flicks, and some comedies like “Young Frankenstein” and two “Elvira” films.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review Pete! Never heard of this film before, but it doesn’t sound too bad, despite the fact that it falls short on the scares. I did like the look of the trailer, and there are enough elements in it for me, that I might give it a go! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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