It seems that witches have been popping up as part of our TV and cinema viewing entertainment for centuries, ever since we stopped burning them at the stake.
From the domestic bliss with a twist of Bewitched which ran from 1964 to 1972, to the teenage angst of sassy Sabrina, the Teenage Witch which ran from 1996 to 2003 and the sexy sisters three of Charmed (1998–2006). Even up to the recent Witches of East End and the utterly awesome American Horror Story: Coven both out last year, audiences are perpetually bewitched by female sorceresses in all forms.
Unlike their televisual counterparts, witches on film have seemingly been segregated to three genre’s; horror, romance and kids films with movies like Witches of Eastwick, Hocus Pocus, Season of the Witch, The Witches, Stardust, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and just about every Disney movie enforcing many traditional stereotypes – and only a few films trying to break the black magic mold such as The Craft.
Although the ladies of The Last Keepers reject the word witch, the mythos and magic of director Maggie Greenwald’s movie is very obviously based on the many tales that have gone before it.
Rhea (Zosia Mamet) is the third in a generation of powerful women, all of which live under the same roof in perfect harmony along with her father (played by Practice Magic’s Aidan Quinn).
With their quirky house, professions as artists and unconventional ways it is easy to see why Rhea is an outcast at her High School however she embraces her individuality flying her freak flag high and catching the attention of Oliver (Sam Underwood from Dexter) who falls madly in love with her.
As the couples romance blossoms Rhea’s mother (Witches of East End’s Virginia Madsen in very familiar territory) fears for her daughter’s future and is besieged by blood soaked visions of what is to come.
With Rhea’s powers growing it appears that she is the living fulfilment of a long held prophecy of the last keepers but can she stay on the path that fate has laid out for her or will she stray and end up living out the deadly dream that her mother has foreseen.
Blending a high school movie with pagan rituals and magic powers The Last Keepers is very much aimed at the teen market and Rhea’s journey from outsider to conformity and back again is well traced with her role as the savior of human kind well-handled if a little preachy.
Although it strays into horror at times with the haunting appearance of a white haired girl, burning Halloween effigies and the dread filled visions of Rhea’s death it lacks the edge and dark side of other teen horrors like The Moth Diaries or The Mortal Instruments City of Bones.
What it does have going for it is a great cast with all the principle actors, including Olympia Dukakis as Rhea’s unconventional grandma with elemental powers, bringing the bunch of odd balls to life and making them sympathetic and likable rather than annoying and unrealistic which they could have been.
Aimed firmly at younger audiences The Last Keepers might lack the horror of other works of witch fiction but hopefully it will serve as a soft introduction to inspire a whole generation of teens to seek out more hardcore pagan pictures and televisual treats.