The Old Ways is a supernatural horror film directed by Christopher Alender and written by Marcos Gabrial. The cast includes Brigitte Kali Canales, Andrea Cortés, Julia Vera, and Sal Lopez.

Cristina (Brigitte Kali Canales) is a reporter pursuing a story in her hometown. Shackled and treated with caution, Cristina is deeply confused and frantic until she learns her captors believe she is possessed. Luz (Julia Vera), the bruja—or witch, believes only the old ways can save her.

Julia Vera as Luz the Bruja
Julia Vera as Luz the Bruja

What I Like

For one hour and thirty minutes, The Old Ways doesn’t compromise its storytelling. From the initial “is she possessed?” to the unraveling journey that unfolds, I never felt any section was rushed or underdeveloped.

As jump scares are unimpressive to a viewer like me, the lack of them went unnoticed. This film builds tension that unsettles and genuinely disturbs me at points.

The effects are not the most realistic, but the unreal works to the movie’s advantage. What we see is unnatural but believable, something otherworldly.

While the cast is strong, the standout performance was Julia Vera’s Luz and Sal Lopez’s Javi (the bruja’s son). Both are complex characters and showcase extremely competent execution. From the subtly revealed backstory of the bruja to Javi’s brooding resentment, their performances enhance the movie.

Brigitte Kali Canales as Cristina
Brigitte Kali Canales as Cristina

What I Dislike

Andrea Cortés’ Miranda felt a bit underdeveloped in comparison. Playing Cristina’s cousin, she serves more as the exposition dump. Perhaps this is less to do with Miranda and more to do with Cristina not feeling a part of this community? Regardless, Cristina acts like a stranger unconnected to the setting, and Miranda is her only connection to it.

While I find the effects serviceable, this is subjective. Others might find the lack of realism distracting. While I think the tension building to these moments adds layers to the suspension of disbelief, it’s worth mentioning.

Some moments felt predictable. If you expect a mystery that shocks you, The Old Ways will disappoint you. However, this film doesn’t paint itself as such.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

The Old Ways is a tense horror film that is worth the watch. While direct scares are not this film’s strong suit, the uncertain protagonist and spiraling mystery accomplish what many movies fail to accomplish. The Old Ways actually unsettles the viewer.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

About the Author

Zeth received his M.A in English with a focus in Creative Writing at CSU, Chico. As a human writer, he published in the 9th volume of Multicultural Echoes, served on the editorial board of Watershed Review, and is a horror reviewer for Haunted MTL. All agree he is a real-life human and not an octopus in human skin. Fascinated by horror novels and their movie adaptations, Zeth channels his bone-riddled arms in their study. Games are also a tasty treat, but he only has the two human limbs to write. If you enjoy his writing, check out his website.

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