The Blood In The Snow Film Festival begins tonight, offering some choice cuts in the world of horror and genre films from across Canada. When people think “horror movie”, thoughts of zombies and werewolves and ghosts come to mind. Supernatural beings with abilities and appearances that make the common man afraid. Far more scary is the horror of the mind. The horror comes from knowing something is not right. Things are off in a way that affects the viewer on a more of a psychological level. That is the horror on display in Majic, making its Canadian premiere this Sunday at 4:30PM.
Directed by Erin Berry, Majic takes place in 2008, when video blogging, “new media” are still in their infancy. Bernwood (played by Paula Brancati) is a video blogger and podcaster who’s known for debunking conspiracy theories. But new events have her question her own reality after she is approached by Anderson (Richard Fitzpatrick), an elderly gentleman who claims to be have been a member of the clandestine government organization Majestic-12 (a.k.a. Majic). This meeting leads Bernwood to question her own reality. She fall deeply into a conspiracy connecting back to the UFO siting in Roswell, New Mexico.
The concept for Majic isn’t new. A skeptic becoming a “true believer” is a tried and true protagonist in stories of this nature. The trick lies in the story’s execution. Bernwood is presented as a trustworthy character. She uses facts to prove her position. She does not fudge the narrative to make her point valid. So when she starts to question the possibility that she could be slipping into an alternate reality, the audience goes along for the ride. But there are counter points presented to her that debunk this theory. The viewer can decide for themselves the “true” narrative. It’s another common story trope used quite effectively here.
What Majic does best of all is create fear and tension from two people talking. Most of the film is Bernwood in one-on-one conversations. Some are to collect evidence. Others are to bounce theories off of. The conversations she has with Anderson throughout the film showcase her loss of reality. She begins confident and cynical. The final time the two meet, she is erratic and lost. It’s an exciting character analysis made all the more interesting by a solid performance from Brancati.
The choices Majic makes are very intriguing. The story takes place in 2008. This is before vloggers have big brand deals. Youtube is only a few years old. The power of social media is there but not as strong. Bernwood has no community to connect to like she would in present day. She only has herself and a few others to help her make sense of the situation. The year provides an unhelpful environment. It seems like a small touch but it’s an effective one.
The only part of the film that felt awkward is the inclusion of the Mandela Effect in the second and third acts. The Mandela Effect refers to a situation in which a large mass of people believes that an event occurred when it did not. The film takes time to fully explain the concept and give examples. Its important for the audience to be in the know about it for a couple of scenes in the second half of the film. It feels very forced. There’s a better way to present this information to the audience. There’s a stop gap in the film’s momentum that takes a bit to get back. Thankfully, Majic recovers in time and gives a satisfying conclusion.
If you’re a fan of conspiracy theories, alien obduction stories, or intense conversational films, Majic is worth checking out. The performances are gripping and the material is engaging. Majic plays at Blood In The Snow 2019 this Sunday at 4:30PM at the Royal Cinema in Toronto. The film screens with the short Songs My Mother Taught Me, directed by Doug Cook. Get tickets HERE!
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