With theaters being in the state they are, now is a better time than any to delve into independent films that skip the theatrical route in favor of going their own way. One such indie film, available to rent on Amazon Video, is magic inspired Earth Mother.
The film by first time feature director Brandon Polanco follows Dave (Josh Kim), a pothead twenty-something clearly still figuring out a lot about himself and the life he wants to lead. On the fateful day that most of the film covers, he is running late for his obligatory tech job and is stopped on the way by a mysterious naked woman who jumps in front of his car.
This woman had just risen from a river deep in the woods, only to be immediately chased by a trio of Wyrd Sisters, dressed in campy spooky garb that harkens back to the days of Hocus Pocus. They are on the hunt after her, as her death will fuel them for the next century, so they chase her into the road where fate brings her to Dave.
The silent woman’s secrets gradually unveil themselves as skeptical Dave seeks help from peers who might be able to help protect her and he unwillingly gets dragged into her world of magic and entities from beyond our material world.
The cast of supporting characters include eccentric Uncle Walton, comedic but warmhearted friend Cody, bad-ass witch Vera, and shy recluse Warren. Together they are able to help decipher why the mysterious woman has come into their lives. They soon learn that she is the Earth Mother, who only walks the earth for one day every 100 years and needs protected from the Wyrd Sisters, whose tradition it is to kill her each century that she appears.
Though more than doubtful at first, Dave soon becomes convinced that there is more to this world than meets the eye. His Uncle Walton has tried and failed to convince him of it throughout his life, but it isn’t until the Earth Mother comes into his life that he must truly face the reality that magic is all around him, within him, and that cannot be denied any longer.
Moviegoers looking for a little something magical will not be disappointed here, especially if you are interested in witchcraft and paganism. If you are familiar with witchcraft, you’ll see lots of familiar sights including runes, elemental rituals, tarot cards, smudging, singing bowls, and more. The mythos involved will also ring of familiarity, but with a modern day setting that brings it to the now.
Some of the visuals used to create these fantasy elements may frighten off viewers who have become used to blockbuster special effects as the norm, but creative ways of showing the magical moments keep it fresh and interesting for a low budget film. The natural beauty of the outdoors is one low cost resource that is used to its full potential here with beautiful drone shots and close ups that help bring you into this world.
Leads Annette Mia Flores and Josh Kim give vulnerable, honest performances that ground the main emotional narrative. The supporting cast are also very enjoyable to watch because it’s clear how much fun they are having with it. Jenny Joslin’s Hope stands out amongst the enigmatic Wyrd Sisters, as her dedication to the character is tangible. Ian Kevin Scott (Uncle Walton) and Christopher Ebel (Cody) are also notable because of the lightheartedness they bring to the story with their humor and warm presences.
Overall, what makes this movie memorable is how the film itself embodies one of the story’s main messages. Dave must learn that magic is inside everyone and that everything you need to create amazing things is already within you. That magic can manifest through art, writing, storytelling, and that’s exactly what’s happening in the production of the film. You can feel that this is a passion project, made not for the money as most Hollywood films are today, but rather for the joy of filmmaking, collaboration, and storytelling. No filters are there to prevent the filmmakers’ intentions from coming through; LGBT characters are introduced without their sexuality defining them, and magic is depicted in a deeply spiritual way as many understand it today, though is rarely seen in such a way onscreen. The characters and the story feel pulled from the heart of the writer, so though there may be some cosmetic blemishes on the film’s surface, the core of it is full of the joy of creation.
For those wanting to engage their spiritual side or just looking for an easygoing, inspiring indie film, Earth Mother is a great match. Anyone closed off to fantasy outside of the mainstream may be thrown off by the camp of the film’s special effects, but if you give in to the story and let it work it’s magic it makes for an easy, quick watch that will leave you feeling the warmth of the filmmakers emanating through the screen.