The Old Ways
Promotional release poster
Directed byChristopher Alender
Written byMarcos Gabriel
Produced by
  • Christa Boarini
  • T. Justin Ross
  • David Grove Churchill Viste
Starring
  • Brigitte Kali Canales
  • Andrea Cortés
  • Julia Vera
  • Sal Lopez
  • AJ Bowen
Production
company
Soapbox Films
Release date
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Languages
  • English
  • Spanish

The Old Ways is a 2020 American horror film directed by Christopher Alender. It stars Brigitte Kali Canales as Cristina Lopez, a Mexican-American reporter who returns to her hometown near Veracruz in search of a story on witchcraft.[1] There, she is kidnapped by a group of locals, including a bruja (a female practitioner of witchcraft), who believe her to be possessed by a demon.[2][3]

The Old Ways had its world premiere at the Sitges Film Festival in October 2020.[1][4]

Plot

A young Cristina watches as her mother undergoes an exorcism. When her mother beckons Cristina to her bedside, the demon controlling her lunges at Cristina and leaves scratches on her arm.

In the present, an adult Cristina waking up in a remote hut in Veracruz, Mexico. A man, Javi, asks her why she was in a region called La Boca. Luz, a Nahuatl bruja, looks into her eyes and proclaims, "She has it." Javi then forces Cristina to drink goat's milk to purify her soul. Cristina's cousin Miranda explains that she found her lying unconscious at La Boca and brought her to Luz and Javi to help her.

It is revealed that Cristina is a Los Angeles journalist who returned to her hometown to investigate the La Boca ruins. She is addicted to heroin and continues to inject the drug with her remaining syringes while chained to her bed, insisting that she does not have a demon inside of her. Luz and Javi perform a ritual to exorcise the demon. Though Cristina remains skeptical, she accepts she is possessed after disturbing events occur: snakes enter her room, she finds a rooster inexplicably mangled in her cell, and sees candles burn out and lead to a dark corner in the room. During another ritual, Luz seems to pull animal teeth out of her abdomen, and unsuccessfully tries to extract a snake, which escapes back into her body.

One night, she chokes Javi unconscious and tries to escape, but an invisible force prevents her from leaving. She becomes a believer in the demon, Postehki, after she vomits hair and black liquid. Postehki is "the death god of broken things," and has inhabited her because she is chronically depressed from spending her youth in foster care and turned to heroin. The demon has called her back to her hometown so he can finish "consuming" her. She discards what's left of her heroin supply and becomes determined to defeat the demon.

Cristina asks about a mysterious boy she sees occasionally. The group declares they don't know of any boy living nearby. Cristina discovers the "broken man ritual" from a book Miranda gave her. During another ritual, Luz temporarily subdues a convulsing Cristina. Postehki reveals itself to Luz, who seizes its heart, sacrificing her life to expel it and save Cristina. However, Postehki enters Miranda through the scratches Cristina gave her earlier. Cristina paints her face, taking over the bruja role from Luz, and they draw out Postehki. Cristina grabs its heart, throws it to Miranda, who stabs it - burning and apparently killing Postehki.

Cristina's editor Carson is brought to the hut by the locals after he was found near La Boca. He's arrived to rescue her, but he's brought more heroin. Cristina is uninterested in the drugs, and instead determines that he has been possessed once she sees his eyes. She begins the ritual to save Carson, having fully assumed the role as the new bruja.

Cast

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Old Ways has an approval rating of 96% based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A demonic possession movie with impressive depth, The Old Ways uses familiar genre ingredients to cast a uniquely gripping spell."[5]

Deirdre Crimmins, writing for Rue Morgue, called the film "part possession, part bruja, and part confession, and an all-around good and scary movie."[3]

References

  1. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (October 8, 2020). "'The Old Ways': First Teaser For Sitges Witchcraft Horror, XYZ & UTA Boards Sales". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  2. ^ Whittaker, Andrew (April 23, 2021). "Other Worlds is Back With a Return to the Galaxy". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Crimmins, Deirdre (April 22, 2021). "Panic Fest '21: "The Old Ways" Exorcises Personal and Literal Demons". Rue Morgue. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  4. ^ "The Old Ways - Sitges Film Festival - Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya". Sitges Film Festival. Archived from the original on October 19, 2020. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  5. ^ "The Old Ways (2021)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.