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The Big Bad Hag

By Valerie Milano

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/29/24 – In the eerie heart of Central Illinois lies a tale woven with threads of mystery and terror, brought to life in director Paul A. Brooks’ latest cinematic endeavor, Hunting for the Hag. Set in a creepy, dense woodland, the film plunges audiences into a gripping narrative following three young women on a quest to uncover the truth behind a local legend: The Hawthorne Hag. During their chilling quest, they are faced with deadly realities, which include old and new monsters alike that were never anticipated.

Director Paul Brooks masterfully weaves together pieces of age-old wisdom and contemporary ingenuity in his latest cinematic venture. Drawing from folklore surrounding witches, ghosts, and spirits, Brooks embraces the notion that while there may be nothing truly new under the sun, innovation lies in the artful blending of the familiar with the novel. Reflecting on the genesis of his project, Brooks explains, “We sort of took inspiration from a couple different things and put them in a pot and blended it up to turn it into something that was kind of its own story. There are some elements of Salem Witch in this project as well as research we conducted to pull inspiration from several famous witch stories.” Through meticulous craftsmanship, Brooks and his team skillfully navigate the labyrinth of beloved lore, infusing Hunting for the Hag with a captivating sense of nostalgia while charting an exhilarating course toward uncharted narrative territory.

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In a genre often characterized by thrills and chills, Hunting for the Hag distinguishes itself with a bold exploration of contemporary social issues, particularly the daunting influence of hypermasculinity. Brooks deftly traverses this terrain, infusing the film with a nuanced examination of the dangers inherent in toxic masculinity. With an eye toward both creative expression and social responsibility, Paul articulates, “I am a big proponent of baking in a little social commentary to your art; whatever your art may be. We wanted to make sure that we had something to say and that is what we are getting at: What it might be like for a group of young women to go on a road trip, which is supposed to be a very fun and innocent excursion, ends up being a nightmare for the main characters in the film.” Through this lens, Hunting for the Hag transcends traditional horror fare, offering audiences a thought-provoking exploration of contemporary issues within the framework of a gripping narrative.

Through its masterful blend of suspense, intrigue, and social insight, Hunting for the Hag stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to provoke thought, stir emotion, and challenge perceptions. As the credits roll and the echoes of the forest fade, one thing remains clear: the legend of The Hawthorne Hag will continue to haunt the collective imagination long after the final frame. Check out Hunting for the Hag on VOD in Canada and the U.S. starting on April 2nd, 2024!