Review: The Witch Hunters (Zlogonje)(2019 Sundance Film Festival)

Title: The Witch Hunters (Zlogonje)
Rating: NR
Director: Rasko Miljkovic
Starring: Mihajlo Milavic, Silma Mahmuti
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins

What It Is: Jovan, a young boy with cerebral palsy, and Milica, the new kid in school, befriend each other as they struggle to come to terms with the forces getting in the way of their happiness. Jovan’s persistence is highlighted by his dreams of being a superhero, able to move freely with no assistance while Milica uses stories to make sense of her father’s interest in a new woman.

What We Think: The film felt incomplete. For such a short film, Jovan’s focus seemed to be all over the place. There were moments where he was concerned with belonging and other moments focused solely on wanting control over his body. But by the end, it wasn’t clear how either was achieved and whether it was achieved in a positive light.

Was Milica a force to get him out of his comfort zone? Jovan didn’t seem overly concerned with what Milica wanted to do either: destroy the woman who bewitched her father. To be completely honest, Milica seemed like a bully. She demanded Jovan’s time and attention to fulfill her needs. She came off as aggressive. She lacked social awareness. She seemed unconcerned with his disability and the few instances of empathy from her were erratic.

The reoccurring superhero dream didn’t lend itself to the film either. It seemed like an excuse to use a few state of the art effects. Starting with the superhero dream, insinuating Jovan dreams of being strong and ending with a reflection of himself as a superhero, insinuating he’s achieved feeling strong would have been a great way to wrap up the film if there was a clear indication of what made him feel strong or what shifted his attitude in the first place.

Our Grade: C-, A handful of elements could have been cut out of the film and it would have made more sense. The storytelling was slow (which made for an abrupt ending) and the arc was unclear. Keeping in mind what is deemed appropriate for children varies from country to country this was a little too dark and mature in some instances for kids to grasp what was going on.

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