Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Finally! I’ve had this one on my watch list a few weeks now so as soon as it dropped on Netflix I was all over it like Pazuzu on poor Regan. I avoided the trailer on purpose so I went into this one with as little information as possible. No exaggeration here folks—all I knew was this was a horror movie based on Spanish folklore. So was it worth the wait? Let’s break out the old spell book and find out!
It doesn’t always work when a movie starts in the middle and works its way back to the beginning, but in the case of The Old Ways this style of storytelling works in the movie’s favour. We start with a young Mexican-American woman named Christina (Brigitte Kali Canales) who is chained up with a bag over her head in the middle of nowhere. She has no idea how she got there and her pleas to her captors fall on deaf ears as they seem to be performing some sort of ritual on her. She’s told she has something inside her and when she sees it, she needs to tell them. Then she’s left alone.
I loved this set-up as most possession horror movies always start with the person leading a normal life only to become possessed and, well, we all know the rest. Screenwriter Marcos Gabriel avoids these old tropes and smartly allows the audience to live through Christina by having us know little to nothing about what’s going on. Is she really possessed or are these people crazy?
They also play with themes such as childhood trauma and how it shapes us and the importance of respecting one’s heritage. Christina lost her mother at a young age and blames the “healer” who her mother was taken to for her death. She believes if they could’ve afforded medicine her mother would’ve survived and her life would’ve been different. Even though she’s a successful journalist in her own right, she struggles with addiction, her own “demons” if you will, and this is another way director Christopher Alender masterfully blends real-life issues into this tale of the supernatural.
The pacing of the story does suffer a bit due to the choice to leave things ambiguous for as long as possible. But once it gets going, there are some solid creepy moments to be found in The Old Ways. I always prefer it when the scares are subtle, especially the type that sends chills down your spine instead of trying to get you to jump out of your seat. And this movie is at its best when it does that. For example, my favourite moment is one where Christina, armed with only a lighter, thinks she sees something in the corner of the dark room. You the viewer have to pay close attention and what you may or may not see is enough to creep anyone out of their skins. It’s when the movie is loud and the jump scares are being thrown at you left and right is where I felt it lost me. That said, I loved the ending and the creature design was pretty cool even though it was heavily CGI. You know me, practical effects will always get the win.
The Old Ways is a decent enough horror movie and the kind of genre flick I would recommend to friends who scare easily. The story and its themes are interwoven nicely with the supernatural elements and even though the ending feels a tad too long, I can’t fault it much because I really enjoyed the conclusion. The Old Ways is available on Netflix now if you want to check it out yourself.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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