The Witches casts a spellbinding story with a sprinkle of wickedness

Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway star in HBO Max’s rendition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

Photo from Wikipedia, property of Warner Brothers Studios

Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway star in HBO Max’s rendition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

Diana Beas Soto, Staff Writer

The new reboot of the beloved 1990 classic film based on Roald Dahl’s book The Witches stirs nostalgia and ups the creep factor from the original.  

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this bewitching film was recently released on HBO Max for the Halloween season. 

The story follows a young boy named Charlie (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) who loses his parents in a tragic accident, leaving him in the care of his grandmother Agatha (Octavia Spencer). Octavia Spencer’s performance in The Witches establishes the feel-good moments such as warming up to the boy with delicious homemade foods and dancing with him to popular music during the film’s setting, 1960s Alabama. 

The Witches also juggles themes following racism and politics due to the nature of the film’s setting, something that was not incorporated in the 1990 version. 

Examples of this can be found when Agatha and Charlie check into a well-known hotel where the guests are predominantly white, and Agatha’s flashbacks to when she was a young girl when she first encountered a witch. This is a refreshing element of the film since it does not ignore the tension during that time period. 

However, the creep factor of  Zemeckis’ film is manifested with the introduction of the witches. 

Anne Hathway plays the Grand High Witch who schemes to transform all kids around the world into revolting vermin with the help of her fellow witches. 

CGI effects are a point of comparison between this remake and the original 1990 version, which used Jim Henson’s iconic puppets to mimic the mice in the film.

 The Witches follows the same storyline as the original, as the boy encounters a witch for the very first time prompting him and his grandmother to go into hiding. However, the two unknowingly hide in the very hotel where the witches have checked into to deliberate their plans. 

Anne Hathaway is the embodiment of every child’s nightmare as the film progresses: boils covering her unsettling bald head, a never ending grin ear to ear, and gruesome maggots in her scalp. Her demeanor exudes creepiness, from the way she talks to the way she strides into the hotel.  

Charlie accidentally finds himself locked in during the witches’ official meeting and meets repercussion in the form of being transformed into a small mouse. It is up to him and his friends to stop the witches from continuing their diabolical plans. 

The CGI effects of the transformation scenes are some of the most eerie parts of The Witches. The idea of a child being physically transformed into a rodent as their whole skeletal anatomy changes is terrifying to watch.  

Robert Zemeckis brings Roald Dahl’s freakishly good story to life in a different perspective from the 1990 version. 

Juggling different themes and incorporating some distinct elements from the original, it is thoroughly enjoyable. Although some will enjoy the original which scared them as children and gives them the nostalgia from the past, this version will do the same to today’s younger generations and will easily become a Halloween classic for kids. 

The Witches is a fun spooky family watch or a late night pick with friends. For those looking for something deviously enjoyable, The Witches fits the childish horror category like a glove. 

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California