Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pyewacket (4½ Stars)

This is the sixth film in the Stuttgart Nights Festival.

This is a Canadian film that was filmed in Ontario, but the story's location is kept vague. It's common for Canadian films to leave it unclear whether they take place in Canada or America. Watching the film today I didn't notice any street signs or other clues that would have unambiguously identified the town.

Leah is a teenage girl who lives in a small town. It's a year since her father died. Since then her mother has turned to alcohol for comfort. This, in turn, has made Leah despise her mother. Leah too is suffering and needs support, but her mother is a wreck and can't help her.

Leah's mother makes the worst possible decision she can make. She thinks that the family home is the problem. It feels like a tomb since her husband passed away, so she decides to move into a new home an hour's drive north. Leah will have to change school at the end of the school year, but until then her mother will drive her to and from school every day. This will separate Leah from her friends, who were the only small amount of support she was receiving.

Added to this, the new house is isolated in the middle of the woods, a long distance away from whatever the new town is. When Leah gets home after school she's sad and lonely, with only the mother that she despises so much for company.

With the help of occult books Leah casts a spell to kill her mother. If you're a sceptic you'll say that's better than simply bashing her mother's head in with a baseball bat, but you're wrong. Leah has summoned a demon called Pyewacket. She contacts an author of occult literature online who tells her that evil spells always have a price. The demon will first do what he's been summoned to do, and after completing his task he'll torture the one who summoned him. Leah has to undo the spell before her mother dies.

This is a chilling story which fascinated me from beginning to end. The conversations between the children in Leah's school (probably aged 15 to 16) brought up some interesting questions. It's said that children should respect their parents, but what if parents don't live a life that earns their respect? A person doesn't automatically become a figure of authority when he has a child. A weak person doesn't become strong overnight.

Some parents need as much help from their children as their children do from them. Obviously children can offer nothing when they're four or five years old, but as they grow older they can slowly grow into their responsibility. Some children can do that, some can't. If I remember correctly, I first began to become a companion for my mother when I was 12. I used to sit with her for hours talking about her problems. My sister was different. She only thought about herself and never did anything to help her mother, at least not when she was young. It wasn't until after my sister's divorce -- her marriage only lasted six months -- that she and her mother grew close. She turned to her mother for help, but the relationship became mutual and she offered help in return.

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