APPLECART (which will more than likely have its name changed when it gets picked up for distribution) feels very of the moment—it features witches and a true crime reality show within the film—and at the same time, has one foot in early ‘90s direct to video nostalgia. The plot which—which concerns a coven of witches sacrificing an average family to appease their elder gods and goddesses—comes across as a touch convoluted, but the film shines when it leans into the more over the top gore and scares. APPLECART at times comes across as sloppy in the continuity department, but the overall tone and sense of fun that surrounds the film propels it across the finish line.
Quite a bit of the “sloppiness” of APPLECART (the snow landscape comes and goes) comes about as it was shot on the fly over the course of a year and a half similarly to the way Don Coscarelli shot the original PHANTASM, albeit, on a much longer timeline. It’s fitting that Coscarelli is the producer on the film and perhaps saw a little bit of himself in writer/director Brad Baruh. Anyone who’s produced their own independent film will be willing to give a pass on some of the moments that were out of the filmmakers control and respect that they still got the project in the can. That said, the ID network style true crime bit that anchors the film is meticulously done from the sets to the reenactments to the delivery of the experts featured on the show and helps elevate APPLECART from what may have been a forgettable ‘90s DTV riff into something that is quite memorable.
While the witch costumes and makeup effects are impressively cool, it’s Barbara Crampton who shines in APPLECART. The actress—who’s generally cast as a icy, more matronly figures—hams it up to amusing effect as a top tier witch who also happens to be running for office. Every line she delivers is pitch perfect and it’s refreshing to see the actress display her comedic chops as a smugly cool villainess.
APPLECART is a film that certainly skates by on its charms and even with a relatively high concept, it leans into the trashier end of genre cinema that this reviewer always enjoyed.