Based on the book by Roald Dahl, The Witches tells the story of Luke (Jasen Fisher), a young boy who goes on a holiday with his parents to visit his Norwegian grandmother (Mai Zetterling). Grandma loves to tell Luke bedtime stories about witches who, she says, spend their time plotting to kill children. Luke wakes one morning to find his parents’ bed empty and learns the sad news that they’ve been killed in an accident.
Grandma decides to take Luke to England to spend some time in a seaside resort. There Luke stumbles upon a convention of witches, led by the Grand High Witch, Eva Ernst (Angelica Houston). The Grand High Witch has developed a potion that will turn all the children of England into mice. She demonstrates the potion on a poor, hapless boy, Bruno (Charlie Potter). Luke also becomes a victim, and as a mouse, he must devise a way to defeat the witches.
Fantasy; witchcraft; mild horror; death of parents
The Witches has some violence. For example:
- Eva strikes another witch with a beam of light. The witch disintegrates into a pile of charcoal.
- The witches cause chaos as they chase Luke through the hotel kitchen and out onto the beach.
- Luke sees a woman pushing a baby in a pram. Eva grabs hold of the pram and pushes it down the hill. The baby shakes up and down in the pram and looks scared.
- The witches find Luke in his room, grab him and force him onto a table. They give him 500 doses of mouse potion. He starts to shake violently, green smoke comes out of his ears and nose, and he’s turned into a mouse. The witches try to step on him and kill him, but he manages to escape.
- When Luke and Bruno are mice, they’re chased by a cat, which tries to attack them with its paws.
- As a mouse, Luke is in constant danger of being trod on and having things fall on him. He also narrowly avoids a potato scrubbing machine and nearly goes into the fryer.
- Luke gets some of his tail chopped off in the hotel kitchen. It bleeds.
- The cook starts to turn into a mouse. She spins, green smoke comes out of her ears, and then she’s a mouse. Eva stamps on the mouse.
- When Eva turns into a mouse, the hotel manager hits Eva with a large knife.
The Witches has some sexual references. For example, the hotel maid kisses the manager. It’s implied that they’re having an affair.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Witches shows some use of substances. For example:
- Grandma smokes cigars.
- The witches drink wine at the convention and celebrate by drinking whiskey and champagne.
Nudity and sexual activity
The Witches has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Luke is seen briefly from behind, running naked through the house.
The Witches has some mild coarse language including ‘good lord’, ‘crikey’, ‘oh my God’ and ‘bloody’. There’s also some name-calling including ‘brainless bumpkin’ and ‘blithering idiot’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Witches is a dark comedy based on the children’s book of the same name. Although the movie might be funny for older children, younger children might be very scared by it. Therefore, The Witches isn’t suitable for children under 8 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 8-10 years.
The main message from this movie is that good triumphs over evil.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- bravery and courage
- care and concern for others.
The Witches could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the difference between what’s real and what’s made up. It might be a good idea to remind children that this is just a story meant to entertain and that none of it is real.