Old Ways

Review of Netflix horror movie about exorcism and witchcraft, ‘The Old Ways’

November 7, 2021 Mario Bautista 1375 views

Old WaysTHE Old Ways’ is a horror movie that is a combination of exorcism and witchcraft. It opens with a young girl, Cristina, who watches as her possessed mother in Mexico is being exorcised. The evil spirit controlling her mother suddenly grabs her arm and leaves some nasty marks on it.

Then cut to the present. Cristina is now all grown up (Brigitte Kali Canales) and we learn she grew up in America and works there as a newspaper reporter. She has now returned to their village in Mexico, Veracruz, to do a story about witchcraft and a strange ritual.

We see her waking up inside a make shift house and it turns out she has earlier forayed into a remote place called La Boca. They found her there unconscious and brought her to the hut where she is now held captive, chained to her bed.

An old man, Javi (Sal Lopez), gives her goat milk to purify her, and an old woman, Luz (Julia Vera), a one-eyed bruja or witch doctor with so much face paint like Joker, looks into her and tells Javi that “she has it.” Her cousin, Miranda (Andrea Cortez), shows up and tells her they are trying to help her since she is possessed.

She insists that there is no evil spirit inhabiting her body, but she is a drug addict. Soon, unexplainable things happen around her. Some snakes appear. Candles light up and gets extinguished by unseen forces. She sees a dying bloody chicken.

Luz then performs a strange ritual of faith healing to get rid of the demon inside of her. Luz probes invasively into her body using just her fingers and gets some animal teeth from inside her tummy. A snake also comes out but it manages to return to her body.

A demon called Postehki, the death god, is said to be possessing her. She vomits and out comes a bunch of tangled hair and black blood. It seems she got the demon when her mom was being exorcised and touched her arm. This explains why she is always suffering from depression as a child in America and why she turned to drugs.

She becomes determined to conquer the demon and drive it away from her body. But things get more complicated while Luz tries to subdue the demon in a ritual where the evil spirit reveals itself to her. Cristina’s editor from Los Angeles arrives to rescue her and the story gets even more strange.

U.S. critics lionize this film saying it works as a horror movie, but honestly, we find it so silly. There are so many loopholes in the storytelling that the director, Christopher Alender, seems to have glossed over. For instance, when Cristina asked for her travel bag to get her supply of injectable heroin, Javi gave it back to her without even inspecting its contents?

So when Cristina starts seeing visions, we’re not sure if she’s hallucinating because of the drugs or it’s the demon who’s causing it. There are other turns of plot so ridiculous that you can never take the movie seriously. There are even no unexpected jolts or boo moments that would scare the viewer.

We’ve seen so many movies about exorcism since the time of the original “The Exorcist” in 1972 that it has become an established horror sub-genre. The difference of this one is that it combines Mexican culture and tribal traditions in the story, but sorry, they never get to integrate it all well to make a cohesive and satisfying whole.

The entire movie actually happens all inside the hut where Cristina is confined. And the sad part is that we never develop much empathy for Cristina, or anyone else for that matter. She is such an uninteresting protagonist and we never really root or cheer for her. In the end, we don’t really care whatever happens to this drug-addicted central character.

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