Musings has done quite a few movie and game reviews on theme this Samhain season. There are vampires, and werewolves, and even a Monster House, but we’ve not yet run into witches, and those of whom this holiday is all about, in their celebration of Nature and The Goddess, and the true reason for Samhain (pronounced sow’en). With this we come to a great 1998 film about a family of witches that became both cursed and blessed, and how the curse was broken after three hundred years.
Back in the days of witch-fearing and hysteria in Colonial New England, Maria Owens (Caprice Benedetti) was tried and sentenced to be executed by hanging. What the people of her town did not know that not only was she accused of being a witch, but that she really could do magic. It was her magic that stopped her death, but also sent her into exile to live on an island separate from the town. As her belly grew big with twins, she waited for her lover to come and live with her, but he never came, and since then, and man that an Owens woman falls in love with will find an early grave. Maria made a life for herself with her new daughters, and since then there was always a pattern to the personalities and looks of the Owens women. One would be dark-haired and sensible, the other fiery-haired and wild. Come forward to the 1990s, and this pattern is no different when it comes to Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) Owens.
After their parents die, they have been raised by their aunts, Fran (Stockard Channing) and Bridget (Dianne Wiest) Owens, and their is nothing normal about their household. The aunts are really progressive when it comes to discipline, in that, there is pretty much none at all, and the girls are to learn life’s harder lessons on their own. Sally wants a normal life, but does not want to fall in love and die of a broken heart like her mother did, so she makes up a man she doesn’t exist, and that he will be the only match for her. She longs for a life like the non-magic users around her lead, but Gillian has become a vagabond, going from one relationship to the next all across the country.
While Gillian is being a naughty nomad, Sally, with a little unknown magical help from the aunts, finds the love of her life, Micheal (Mark Feuerstein) at the town’s farmer’s market one day, but a few years down the road, the curse comes for Sally and her family. She searches the Book of Shadows to find a spell to bring Micheal back, but the aunt forbid her to do it, since he could come back as something dark and unnatural. While Sally is dealing with the curse, Gillian finds her own kind of trouble in an exotic Eastern European man, Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic). Gillian is taken in by his kinky charms, but soon finds him to be a very dark and unnatural person, and wants to be rid of him. She slips away, and calls Sally for help, but Jimmy soon finds them, and after a binge on belladonna-laced tequila, he dies.
Sally and Gillian were never really into the craft on the scale that their aunts were, and they merely dabbled, so to take on a project of this size was far beyond their power and capabilities, and they were definitely not ready for the repercussions, or the other things that comes with it, like Arizona Officer Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn), who might just be the man Sally created in her own mind twenty-five years before.
This is a great girl-empowering movie, and teens will love it, too. Some of the concepts might be too hard for younger kids to understand, and the finale banishing spell scene is a bit intense. Still, when it comes to the craft, this is one of the better movies out there, and if you own it, Goddess Bless you!
I give this film a Musing review of