Witchcraft 15: Blood Rose (2016)

I was surprisingly okay with “Witchcraft 14”, despite its puzzling acting choices, non-existent budget and monster-sized plot holes. It had a sense of fun to it and didn’t overstay its welcome, but the same cannot be said of part 15 – surprising, as they had the same director, cast and crew, used the same sets, and so on. The only difference was in the choice of writer, but it’s not like the guy who wrote 14 is any particular genius (he also wrote some of director David Palmieri’s previous lowlights, for example).

I wanted to briefly touch on one of the ways that they found to save money on this production; it’s right at the beginning and it’s a doozie. Firstly, the company’s logo is sourced from what looks like a mid-90s VHS tape, like they had it made, lost the original and had to take the logo from one of their own old commercial tapes. The other is the long-running joke of the title graphic of the movie. The “Witchcraft” logo has been used, unchanged, since part 1, and what every single movie has done is just superimpose the number of that particular instalment in roman numerals in the corner of the pentagram. Part 13 even used a new logo! But by now, they can’t even be bothered to do basic photoshop, so we just get a scrolling graphic of the name and subtitle over the top of the logo from part 1, also taken from a VHS master. Never change, low-budget people!

One thing that definitely didn’t change between parts 14 and 15 is the weird continuity. The beginning of this movie is a re-edited version of the last few minutes of the last movie, but with extra scenes edited in? So now, the weird “why is Sharon walking into the yoga place with a different shirt to the one she was wearing ten minutes ago?” question is answered with “doing an extremely unconvincing lesbian scene with Tara in order to harness sex magic, duh”.

The first ten minutes of the movie goes out of its way to try and convince us that Sharon (Noel VanBrocklin) is actually on the side of good – alleged series hero Will doesn’t notice anything when he gives her a handshake, she’s making all the right noises about being a goodie, even when there’s no-one around to watch her, and even the protagonist of this new trilogy, Rose (Molly Dougherty) is beginning to trust her after the events of part 14, where she helped kidnap her Mum then tricked her into the final meeting with Samuel, lest we forget. So it’s even more confusing when it turns out that all this was a big trick – on us, for some reason. But more on that later.

Our favourite character, Tara (Zamra Dollskin) is now managing the yoga studio, and seems to have a real affinity for the admin and cleaning side of things. Her character has such hidden depths! Tara is still living with Rose, and they’ve got a new housemate (forced on them by Sharon), a woman whose subplot is so dull I shall cease to mention her or her even more tedious boyfriend. Lutz and Garner are back to busting prostitutes, Will is nowhere to be seen – at the beginning, anyway – and all is peaceful in the world of Witchcraft. Oh, Tara does have my favourite line, when they’re discussing murder – “to be fair, you have done it before”, directed at Rose, but said as if they’re discussing boys they like, or something.

Along comes one of my favourite tropes in low-budget cinema – the “guy keeping his underwear on during sex” scene. A fellow by the name of Jamal (Ernest Pierce) is having sex, and it’s filmed like he’s actually penetrating the lady he’s with, but his underwear remains on throughout, and clearly visible in the shot. If you’re going to have your actors keep their underwear on, which is a totally acceptable choice, don’t film that part of their bodies!

Anyway, Jamal dies, because Rose is tricked by Sharon into being a conduit for the use of the same murderous power she displayed in the previous movie; and now, Sharon can transport herself into other bodies pretty much at will. Sure, why not? So there’s the same group of good guys as part 1 – Lutz, Garner and Will, with an assist from Tara, against…well, pretty much just Sharon and the new housemate, along with the corpse I mentioned previously, which they’re hoping to fill with the demonic spirit of Samuel from the last movie. I’m not sure why they didn’t just help harder when he was still alive, as it would appear they fought against him for absolutely no reason (if the footage from the first five minutes is anything to go by).

This is definitely lesser than part 14, which I never thought I’d have to say about a movie. Like, I’m surprised two movies filmed back to back, with (if we’re being honest) largely the same plot, the same cast, the same crew, can vary so wildly in terms of quality. There’s that question that lurks in the back of your mind – is this incompetence or the microscopic budget biting them in the ass? Then I remember it’s David Palmieri and I veer strongly towards the former.

There’s the merely lazy stuff, like the yoga studio pervert being allowed back, like they were hoping we ‘d have forgotten who he was. Then there’s the spectacularly lazy stuff, which relates to a major-ish plot point, which I will try and spoil as little as possible. Turns out that Rose is the daughter of three powerful witches (I was a bit confused by that biological explanation too) and that she’s got special power, or something.

“What, you mean just like Will in the first few movies?” I hear you say. Firstly, kudos for paying attention through 15 of these reviews, and yes, you’re right! One might have wondered if they’d spend a few minutes of their non-nudity-showing time to pop in a bit of plot about Rose taking on the role of series protagonist from Will, having him tell her how tough it is to be the son of a powerful demon, but no. Not even anything close to that, in fact. That Will is still around and still playing a part in the denouement of these things is just extra confusing.

But back to things that actually happened in this movie, they show scenes of people having sex to illustrate that yes, Rose’s parents did indeed have sex at one point. Only, in typical ultra-low-budget cost-cutting fashion, the footage is just borrowed from previous instalments, meaning some of it features previous versions of Will himself having sex with randos, including at least one person who died long before they could have children, and one ISCFC favourite, Janet Keijser. Are they just hoping that none of us would remember those old movies? Actually, that’s almost certainly it. I barely remember them, and I did a review series on the damn things.

There’s a few interesting ideas, and a great line from Garner – “we have to stop the yoga witchcraft murder spree” – but it’s just bad, full of massive holes in logic that wouldn’t even have cost any money to fix. Just someone willing to spend a few minutes thinking, but I guess thinking time cuts into profits.

Rating: thumbs down