Here are three words that chill the soul and petrify the senses: "SyFy Original Movie." It promises schlocky plots, horrible acting, and slapdash production values that make movie snobs cry.
And "Witchville" is.... not nearly as bad as most of SyFy's original movies. Most of this is due to the presence of the ever-awesome Luke Goss, whose mere presence elevates any movie he's in. It's a schlocky, cheesy sword-and-sorcery story that needed a bigger budget than it had, but it tries pretty hard with what it does have.
After of years of exile, Malachai (Goss) and his buddy Jason (Ed Speleers) return to their homeland after hearing that Malachai's royal dad has died. Unfortunately, the kingdom is being ravaged by a famine -- and according to a wandering witch-hunter named Kramer, the famine is due to witches. He also has a magic book about how to find and kill witches.
So Malachai, Kramer, Jason and a small number of warriors set out to find the Red Queen (Sarah Douglas), who commands all the witches, as well as her daughter Jozefa. However, they haven't reckoned with the Red Queen's power and cunning, or the secret reason she wants to conquer Malachai's kingdom.
"Witchville" is pretty much your standard sword-and-sorcery schlock -- it has a lot of age-old cliches (oh look, the pretty young witch is being reformed by a hot shirtless guy), the costumes are Word of Warcraft castoffs, the fight scenes are painfully bad, and the budget was obviously tiny (Malachai's "kingdom" appears to be ONE VILLAGE).
It's cheesy, but unlike most SyFy movies, it's not offensively stupid. And I have to admit, the people behind it did obviously try to make as good as a movie as possible. The plot is decent and moves at a steady pace, and the writers do pull a impressive switcheroo at the end that reverses a lot of the ideas we had about the characters.
And then... there's Luke Goss. I would watch a laxative commercial if it starred Luke Goss. The man has incredible presence, charisma and deep talent, and he gives a depth to his standard character that a lesser actor couldn't. And yes, he appears sweaty, shirtless and tied up. Douglas similarly seems like a cardboard villain for the first four-fifths of the movie, but breaks out into a passionate, tragic turn near the end.
The rest of the actors are a mixed bag. Most of them such as Xiaofei Zhou and Andrew Pleavin are so wooden you could hammer nails in them. Ed Speleers has gotten a lot better since his stint in "Eragon," but his character is so annoying that you'll probably wish someone had set HIM on fire. As for Simon Thorp as the witch-hunter, he gives a solid if very underused performance.
"Witchville" is no "Lord of the Rings," but it's also no "Mega-Shark Vs. Giant Octopus" -- it's brain candy with bad fight scenes and a great performance by Luke Goss. Expect high-fantasy cheez, and that is what you will get.