Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Anjelica Huston, Jasen Fisher, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, Jane Horrocks, Charlie Potter, Brenda Blethyn, Anne Lambton, Bill Paterson
The pedigree for scares in a kids' movie doesn't get much higher than this: Don't Look Now director Nicolas Roeg adapting one of eerie children's story writer Roald Dahl's most outright horrific works. With such a strong creative backbone in place, The Witches fulfills its lofty potential in spades, combining strong performances, sharp wit, and some of the freakiest puppetry and makeup effects in youth-centric cinema.
The plot, lifted directly from Dahl's 1983 book, follows a little boy (Jasen Fisher) who, staying with his loving and feisty grandmother (Mai Zetterling), checks into a massive Victorian hotel where a coven of broom-riders happens to be hosting a convention. A procession of cat-and-mouse chases, kids turning into rats, and effective physical humor leads to a raucous, FX-driven climax that's wonderfully nutty and jolting enough to pleasantly shock adults as well their progeny.