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Parents' Guide to

Witch Hunt

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Socially relevant tale is wickedly clever; peril, violence.

Movie R 2021 98 minutes
Witch Hunt Poster Image

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Writer-director Elle Callahan astutely lights a torch and holds up a mirror so audiences can check themselves -- is that a pitchfork in our hand?Witch Hunt cleverly imagines that if the witch hysteria of centuries past was to happen today, network news and social media, combined with an authoritarian government, would quickly escalate people's fears until they were willing to persecute innocents. But it's very clear that the story intentionally references all-too-familiar anti-immigrant sentiments. Callahan prompts viewers to ask themselves what separates them from distant ancestors of the type who let panic reign in Salem back in the bonnets-and-breeches days. And she achieves this simply by including the obstacle of a border wall that accused witches try to climb over to escape into Mexico in search of asylum.

Even teens who don't get caught up in the movie's political analogy may embrace the importance it places on individualism and media literacy. Witch Hunt makes it very clear that any group can be vilified, any minority that's seen as a threat simply for being different. By following Claire, viewers are able to get into the head space of a confused teen trying to figure out how to navigate the complicated politics of adults and authority figures. Should she side with her compassionate mother, who's putting her family in danger by breaking the law to help witches? Or should she side with her friends, who echo the anti-witch sentiments of the media and government? Perhaps Callahan's greatest sorcery is conjuring a character whose ability to adjust her viewpoint based on empathy could make viewers confront their own attitudes, all wrapped up as a teen-friendly popcorn horror flick.

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