Spooktober 22, Day 21: Haxan

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

What’s amazing about this 1922 film is that, well one: it was 100 years ago, and two: it’s giving lessons and reenactments, and they are, at times, more well-structured than some new embodiments of witches and lore since. It’s a common subject in the film be it horror or folklore, but there’s a reason. It is embedded in our history. I feel this prejudice against anything that seems off, weird, or not the “norm.” It’s a part of history that’s painful to see, which makes this both captivating and challenging.

In some ways, this is the most terrifying new (to me) film I’ve watched recently because its documentary style reminds us how things were perceived 100 years ago. For this much info to be compiled, about innocent people being persecuted, at that time, is disturbing to me. And honestly, while the witch trials ended, there are still a lot of connections and our own versions of it that show how much we have regressed. It’s a bit harrowing to see because it’s nonfiction and fiction at work, showing how dangerous people can be when they don’t understand something.

source: Janus Films

For its time the visuals are especially potent. Obviously utilizing practical effects, it seems realistic, and it is truly unique. The devil is especially menacing. It casts a spell on you and doesn’t let go.

My only gripe and this can sometimes happen with silent films, is the music used. Sometimes I feel it overcompensates and it’s not necessary, and it’s also not tonally connected to the images we are seeing on screen. Still, that’s a very limited aspect.

Benjamin Christensen’s Haxan is really a creepy wonder, a hybrid, an anomaly we don’t often get to experience. Stylish, informative, and ultimately, unforgettable.