Available on Netflix from today is the horror movie, The Old Ways. Directed by Christopher Alender, the movie stars Brigitte Kali Canales, Andrea Cortés, Julie Vera, Sal Lopez and AJ Bowen, and tells the tale of a reporter who finds herself in a worrying situation when she returns to her hometown to cover a story.
In the movie, Cristina Lopez heads to Veracruz, Mexico on an assignment. She is here to investigate the local culture, but while exploring a cave (a location she was told to steer clear of), Cristina is kidnapped and taken to a holding cell.
A short while later, Cristina discovers that one of her captors is a witch who specialises in performing exorcisms. The witch is keeping Cristina captive as she believes Cristina is possessed by a demon.
Keen to remove the darkness from insider her, the witch begins an exorcism, leading to a spiritual battle for Cristina’s soul. But it’s not just a demonic presence that Cristina must face, she also has to deal with some emotional demons that could get the better of her.
OK, so let’s begin this review with a confession. I liked The Old Ways. I didn’t love it; but I liked it and believe it has plenty to offer an audience who is receptive to this type of movie.
The Old Ways is a low-budget horror film, which utilises a handful of characters, limited locations, and a simple premise to tell its story. It doesn’t get bogged down in huge set pieces, and instead chooses to deliver its scares through an effective soundtrack, an uncomfortable-looking setting, and some creepy imagery.
Does this sound like something you can get on board? If you said ‘yes’, then this movie is probably aimed at you.
Most of the horror in the movie is familiar stuff – snakes, blood, things that lurk in the shadows etc. It’s nothing particularly new, but if this is what you want to see in a film, then this is what you get in spades.
In terms of the story, it is intimate stuff, and feels very reminiscent of old episode of The X-Files. Of course, it’s missing Mulder and Scully, but if you’re a fan of that particular show then watching this movie will make you feel as if you are treading very familiar territory.
However, I appreciate that not everyone will find enjoyment in this film. I believe this is largely due to how much you like stories about possession and exorcism, or whether you want a little more from your horror movies.
If you are expecting large scale spectacle or wondrous innovation, you won’t find it here. The Old Ways does exactly what it says on the tin – nothing more.
The good thing about The Old Ways is that it jumps into the story straight off the bat – it doesn’t mess around with an extensive build up and dives headfirst into the action. This film clocks in at around the 90-minute mark and is keen not to waste an ounce of its running time.
The not-so good thing about The Old Ways is that it had the potential to push itself further than it decided to go. More blood and far more gore could have really taken this film to a different level, and this feels like a missed opportunity.
I believe the film also missed a trick when it came to a subplot about drug addiction. The suggestion here is that maybe this possession is about something more than a demonic presence, however, this plot thread comes across as a little underdeveloped.
Room for improvement? Yes. But certainly on the right track for the majority of the film.
If you’re not a fan of movies about exorcism, then The Old Ways is a film you should probably skip, as it is unlikely to convert you into this sub-genre of horror. But for those who like small-scale horror movies, or simply find fascination in stories about possession, The Old Ways will give you something to enjoy.
Director Christopher Alender crafts a dark tale, which looks good and has some strong performances. It is atmospheric when it needs to be, contains a good dash of heart, and delivered just the right amount of entertainment for me.