An eerie tale of sisterhood haunted by the sound of chanting and complete with shots of burning stakes – Coven of Sisters is tasked with retelling a familiar story.

Pablo Agüero’s film is a battle of wills between a group of suspected witches and the religious authorities callously determined to accuse them of witchcraft. Coven of Sisters is largely contained to the girls’ prison cell and the investigator’s interrogation room, staged as a carefully calculated exchange of power. Such a stifling, theatrical setting proves to be a creative way to approach a well-worn topic, yet the tension is unintentionally diffused by the fast edits, with every creeping wide shot punctured by a series of handheld closeups.

Still, Agüero offers his cast space to explore the occasionally thrilling adversity at the heart of the film. Amaia Aberasturi, in particular, leans into the moments of dread before hurling accusations and declarations with searing focus. Yet this otherwise intriguing push and pull is hampered by the predictability of the topic. There have been countless pieces of art that dilute the history of witch hunts down to colourless stories of feminine survival and patriarchal control. While Coven of Sisters weaponises the limited set pieces to serve the story, the story itself is wrote – predictable when it is supposed to be terrifying, flat when it is supposed to feel smothering.

By the end, the story feels lost, building towards a climax that is inevitable. Yet in those final frames Agüero seems to have rediscovered what he wants to say. His musings on the nature of myths, of family, of forced connection, are tucked away in Coven of Sisters’ closing moments.

Coven of Sisters relies on tropes that have become laughably familiar to most film-going audiences, but there are moments and elements that feel chilling, startling and even, imaginative.



CAST: Àlex Brendemühl, Amaia Aberasturi, Daniel Fanego, Yune Nogueiras, Jone Laspiur

DIRECTOR: Pablo Agüero

WRITERS: Pablo Agüero, Katell Guillou

SYNOPSIS: In 1609, a group of girls living in French Basque Country are questioned by an inspector for allegedly practicing witchcraft.