The Noonday Witch

88 minutes 2016

This promising debut feature from Czech director Jiří Sádek reminded me of The Babadook, another psychological horror film concerning grief and single motherhood, though it lacks that film's high visual artistry and emotional punch. Here the mother (Ana Geislerova), whose husband recently died under mysterious circumstances, moves from Prague to the village where her husband grew up, but she never tells her young daughter that the father is dead, just "busy." Over time the already uncomfortable pair begin to notice sinister forces in their midst, made even creepier by the fact that Sádek and cinematographer Alexander Surkala stage most of the action in blistering summer daylight. The climax suffers from unimpressive visual effects, but not enough to sink the measured, atmospheric buildup of the first two thirds or the exquisite performance from Geislerova. In Czech with subtitles.

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