Magic is (unfortunately) real in The Witches, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book of the same name by co-writer and director Robert Zemeckis.

Most of the time magic leads to good fun, especially in children’s stories, but Dahl isn’t known for making things nice and whimsical. His stories tend to have a dark bent, and that’s no different in The Witches. Here, an orphaned boy is just getting settled with his grandmother when a gathering of witches occurs, and oh yeah, these witches hate children. So they hatch a plan to turn all the children, including the boy, into mice, setting them up for extermination.

source: HBO Max

Potentially dead children, fun! It actually does look like fun, as the movie is still family fare with plenty of ridiculousness pushing the grim stuff to the sides. Zemeckis is great at making serious but easily digestible films, including kids movies like The Polar Express, but it’s his flair for special effects that probably attracted him to this. After all, I imagine it’s fun to create little mice kids and plug them into zany, human-sized adventures.

Zany is definitely the tone this seems to be going for, and no one is hitting that harder than Anne Hathaway. She plays the witch in charge and it looks like she’s chewing the scenery alongside Stanley Tucci’s flabbergasted hotel employee. But the movie will really belong to Octavia Spencer as the grandmother protecting the children from the witches, along with the voice work (and some onscreen time for the latter) of Chris Rock and Jahzir Bruno as the embattled boy.

Originally intended for a proper theatrical release, this is now dropping on HBO Max, which I’m sure means we’ll be giphing the hell out of whatever craziness goes on.

The Witches is directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, and Stanley Tucci. It will be released on HBO Max in the US on October 22nd, 2020. For international release dates, click here.

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