Coven of Sisters review – an absorbing, bewitching experience

By Daniel Hart
Published: March 11, 2021
Netflix film Coven of Sisters - or known as Akelarre


Coven of Sisters is a hidden gem — it’s an absorbing, bewitching experience that influences the mind.

This review of the Netflix film Coven of Sisters (or known as Akelarre) contains no spoilers. 

The execution of witches was a fascinating phenomenon based on the undying belief that regardless of what the women said, whether it was true or false, they were guilty regardless, mostly due to the religious strength that God’s work was being done. Coven of Sisters is an absorbing fictional experience of this phenomenon. The story is based in Basque Country, 1609; while the men of the region are at sea, a group of villager girls partake in nightly dances, and then one day, the girls are arrested at dawn.

Netflix’s Coven of Sisters is rewarded for its patience and its awareness of the time it’s in. Most of the film relies on the group of village girls trapped inside their cell, waiting for the religious inquisitor to interview them one by one to seek answers to their witchery. It’s directed with claustrophobia in mind to help the audience understand what the girls are going through — knowing that nothing they say or do will make a difference, which brings mental torture. The girls are fully aware that they are imprisoned for being witches, despite having no idea why they are accused of that. Coven of Sisters becomes a tale of endurance, as the accused decide that their best chance of survival is to give in to the inquisitor’s needs — they sense his thirst for answers.

Coven of Sisters demonstrates ideology when rational thought was scoped on a basic set of rules and limits. If you pretend to be someone for long enough, you can become that person, and the Netflix film brings that notion forward, driven by stubborn belief and drowning in religious virtue. Director Pablo Agüero smartly directs the script from the perspective of the believer and the sufferers; the audience can fully sense both sides’ rationality — the girls and the inquisitor. There was no other hypothesis at this time; there was no contingency or second option. The director has managed to encapsulate the ruthless indoctrination of hunting down the devil.

But what’s horrifying about the direction of Coven of Sisters is that it is ironically bewitching. Once the story escalates, the perspectives are narrowed. Audiences are guided by a path where they start to doubt themselves. Pablo Agüero manages to temporarily manipulate the mind and place the viewer in the 1600s. While we wonder how these atrocities could have happened, Coven of Sisters is highly suggestive and persuasive, marking the point that compliance is easily achieved. It does so without the viewer having to suspend their disbelief. And with that, we understand how the messages of a film can easily be translated into one’s mind. What Pablo Agüero has managed to do is exemplify how cinema is influential, regardless of the era.

The cast honours the script; the standout performance from Amaia Aberasturi cannot be ignored — she manages to transform her character at the pivotal moment of the script; the second act of Coven of Sisters is important as it requires buy-in from the audience, and without a convincing performance, this story easily falls apart.

Coven of Sisters is a hidden gem — it’s an absorbing, bewitching experience that influences the mind.

Movie Reviews, Netflix

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