A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Wildwitch is an uneven Danish movie based on Lene Kaaberbøl's children's book series about a 12-year-old witch named Clara (Gerda Lie Kaas). It has messages of self acceptance and standing up against bullies, but there are also many scary moments, most notably involving the evil witch Kimæra (May Simón Lifschitz), who's seemingly killed after turning into a smoke-like substance. Blood features heavily, as it serves as a plot device in resurrecting an ancient evil. In one scene, a child's hand is cut, and blood is dripped on a frozen tomb. One child is put into a trance, and another is kidnapped, with their hands tied behind their back. The movie features many cute animals, some of which face moments of peril. A cat is injured after being swiped by a human, and a dog is left unconscious after an unseen attack.
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What's the story?
In WILDWITCH, after encountering a strange black cat, 12-year-old Clara (Gerda Lie Kaas) discovers she comes from a family of wild witches. This lineage lets her communicate with the natural world. With the help of her aunt, Isa (Sonja Richter), Clara is taught what it means to be a wild witch. Meanwhile, the evil Kimæra (May Simón Lifschitz) is trying to bring back an ancient force that will destroy all that is good. But in order for Kimæra to succeed, she needs the blood of one particular wild witch -- Clara.
Is it any good?
Based on Lene Kaaberbøl's children's book series, this disappointing adaption is heavy on scares but delivers little else. It has poor dialogue and a plot that jumps all over the place -- characters disappear and reappear with little explanation. That said, Wildwitch does benefit from some breathtaking scenery (it was shot in the Hungarian countryside). But the movie plods, with the repetitive set pieces of Clara being taught how to be a wild witch resembling a never-ending yoga class. Lifschitz's evil witch, Kimæra, is genuinely terrifying, but even her showdown with Clara feels like an anti-climax.
It's refreshing to see the film's predominantly female cast. But their conversations ring false, and the scenes involving Clara and her female school friends feel contrived -- perhaps a reflection that the screenplay and direction were handled by men. Kaaberbøl's books have been successfully retold on the big screen before (see The Shamer's Daughter). Unfortunately, Wildwitch doesn't fall into this category.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the scary scenes in Wildwitch. Which scenes did you find scariest? Were these scenes realistic? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Discuss Clara's relationship with her mother. Why didn't she tell Clara who she really was? Is it sometimes OK to lie?
What character strengths does Clara show? How does she demonstrate courage, not just as a witch, but at school?
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