Veneno Para las Hadas (1984)

Poison for the Fairies was directed by Carlos Enrique Taboada, who wrote the Nostradamus series of vampire movies and also directed Even the Wind Is AfraidBlacker Than the Night and The Book of Stone. This film earned him two Ariel Awards, which are the Mexican equivalent of the Oscar, for Best Picture and Best Director.

If you’re a fan of young girls dabbling in witchcraft — and I think by now the movies that I talk about proves that this genre is beloved here — then get ready.

Veronica is an orphan that lives in a crumbling house with her near-dead grandmother and a nanny who has told her all about the power of witchcraft. Any other child would be afraid. Our heroine uses these stories to protect herself against the bullies of her school.

She finally gains a friend in Flavia, a wealthy girl who was raised to be an atheist. Veronica keeps bragging that she’s an actual witch and the cause of so much of the bad luck that this small Mexican village has been suffering through. Within days, Flavia is so afraid of Veronica that she will do anything she asks, even giving her some of her most prized possessions and obeying her every whim, even taking her on vacation with her family.

As they spend time in the country, Veronica says that she plans on making poison for the fairies, the natural enemies of las brujas. Flavia, pushed to the point of mania, locks the girl in a barn and watches it burn, ridding the world of witchcraft or, at least, one young girl who pushed her to the brink of madness.

I’ve never seen a movie quite like this. I’d say that it fits into the realm of folk horror, ala The Blood on Satan’s Claw, but filtered through Mexico’s unique co-existence of a magical realm and a very real Catholic world. The barn closing also reminds me of another film that is somewhat forgotten, The Other. Malevolent children in both of these films also learn to harness forces — perhaps more real in these examples than Veneno Para las Hadas — that they ultimately cannot truly ever hope to understand.

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