‘The Old Ways’ Review: A horror Film in a Forest of Forgotten Traditions Below the Equator

'The Old Ways' Review

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The Old Ways opens with a young girl watching what looks to be a ceremony performed on her mother. There’s a  sense of dread about what will happen to the young girl and the other people in the room. The film doesn’t waste any time in delivering both jumps scares and suspense. The Old Ways is not your typical horror flick, as you might have seen from the trailer.

The Old Ways does not spend any time driving the plot along. Cristina (Brigitte Kali Canales) is presented to the audience immediately, chained and hooded, afraid as a man slowly and pensively ignites the candles in the room. There is no explanation of who she is or why she is being held hostage, preventing the traditional introduction and capture of the main character in a horror film. It connects the suspense of our first scene to the present, pinning viewers to the screen with a mixture of curiosity and horror.

As viewers try to figure out how Cristina ended up in this situation, it becomes clear that she is confined for her safety and the safety of those around her. A demon possesses Cristina that both the local bruja (sorceress) and her son are determined to exorcise.

The film The Old Ways is a masterpiece. It manages to bring to life a devastating representation of addiction and recovery, despite its shortcomings. It joins a growing list of horror films that tackle critical societal issues via the lens of the horror genre. The Old Ways is a film that uses rituals, culture, and denial to present a rough road that extends beyond the celluloid. While its examinations and portrayal can be a little too on the nose at times, it is a film that uses rituals, culture, and denial to present a rough road that extends beyond the celluloid.

The movie is full of jumps and suspense, making viewers unclear if they are watching a monster or the character Cristina’s mental resolution. Gore also enters the film, but subtly and with purpose. It is never used just to be present; it is always present for a reason.

Cristina’s deniability is brought to life by Brigitte Kali Canales perfectly, the dread she exhibits buried deep, much like the memories her character fights to forget. She provides a strong front for her character while still managing her damaged self’s fragility beneath the surface. While Canales appears unsure of her setting and place at first, both of which hinder the picture while also establishing an out-of-place context, she eventually settles into her role, genuinely embracing her character and the voyage. Andrea Cortes, like her character, rises to the horrific challenge.  Her character has a devoted attachment to her culture and family. Her emotional equilibrium also testifies to the calm of her existence and her confidence in both. Cortes uses her knowledge of who she is and where she came from to shine in the film’s darkest sections.

'The Old Ways' Review

The Old Ways, speaking of the deepest corners, offers a minimal set to its audience. While there are images of caves and the jungle beyond, the video is primarily focused on 2 rooms in the house: the kitchen area and Cristina’s room. Small votive candles give a limited amount of light, illuminating only a small section of the room and casting deep shadows in the corners, the darkness nearly reaching out to Cristina. Beyond the candles, painted icons on the wall envelop the narrative, our main character, and the audience in culture and ritual, exacerbated by each character’s initial lack of understanding.

The Old Ways is primarily about addiction and recovery. Cristina’s communication gap between the bruja and her son was an ingenious storytelling trick. It not only widened the chasm of knowledge, but it also epitomized the conflict that exists between an addict and those who are trying to help them. There is a shortage of comprehension, and communication methods have yet to be developed. There is a desire to assist, but both parties are unable to initiate the conversation.

Cristina’s monster is addiction, which stems from an experience she has been ignoring and afraid to discuss. There is a sense of loneliness in carrying this load and the notion that she will have to fight alone if she is to fight back. There is denial as a result of this. There is a denial that she has a demon or is an addict, and there is a denial that she needs treatment – this denial and acceptance are transforming her as a person. Miranda, her cousin, tells her, “You still don’t believe.”

Platitudes are readily given, as is recognition of Cristina’s actual lack of control over the behaviors linked with her “monster” — “This isn’t you.” Regardless of how much assistance is offered or how many sweet words are made, Cristina must ultimately accept her situation and want help. Until then, those who care about her must keep reaching out to her no matter what.

There are horror films that entice viewers with their imagery and content. One of these films is “The Old Ways.” And it meets up to the expectations. It’s both engaging and terrifying, focusing on essential subjects while entertaining with solid and brutal scares. Overall, The Old Ways is a win-for-possession films, and it is, in some ways, the best and most reflective since Daniel Stamm’s underappreciated The Last Exorcism 10 years ago. It’s a clever, compact exorcism thriller that packs a lot of punch and has a lot to say about culture and personal identity.

SCORE: 6/10

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