⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Coven is a 2015 release that has been produced by London based Film makers FX productions, apparently a small operation not connected to the Wiccan Community.
When I first saw this film I dismissed it as another attempt to cash in on Wicca by filmmakers who don’t understand what it is. As a Cochranian, however, my interest was piqued by the connection to Robert Cochrane and to the London based Regency. The plot revolves around seven schoolkids who are drawn to Queen’s Wood in North London where they are murdered by a mysterious biker whose face is never seen. There is no clear indication of who the biker is and it seems unlikely that anyone watching the film would be able to work this out on the first viewing. None the less the clues are there and it is possible to work it out.
The issue that the film makers have is that this film can only really be enjoyed if it is studied and there is no indication that this is required within the film. It would be possible to believe that this was simply a film which does not have a resolution and exists only to be frightening. The Blair Witch Project is a film of this type and seems to end without any resolution. The Coven, however, is very different and has layers which need to be peeled away. I will reveal the detail so anyone not wanting to spoil the plot should leave this page.
The film opens with a burning tree carrying the image of a goat. Mr Sheers (Dexter Fletcher: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) is then shown giving a lesson about Wicca to a group of sixth formers. He holds a red book with a burning tree as the title page. The class appear sceptical but interested. He is interrupted by a supply teacher, Mrs Belial who takes over the class. She explains that there was a Wiccan leader, Uri Clef, who disappeared on Halloween with seven followers. When a student says “People don’t just disappear – someone must know where he is” she smiles but the bell for the end of the lesson goes so we don’t know why.
Five of the girls in the class decide to head for the woods on the night of Halloween to see if there is anything happening. Mrs Belial is seen cutting roses. She pricks her finger and drinks her own blood. On a bench there is a blue book. The girls enter the woods and see the word Lucifer in ash on the path. Izzy, the leader of the girls, notices that the first letters of the names of the group can be tied to the letters in Lucifer and she writes them in chalk.
Mrs Belial is then seen eating raw venison and casting a spell on the children in the wood. It is clear that she is deeply involved in the problems that they are to face.
The girls put up their tent. Meanwhile another girl Eve is given a lesson by her tutor who explains the meaning of a nursery rhyme. He explains that there are bodies in the wood linked to burials from the plague. He says that their souls went to the devil and speculates “I wonder where the devil gets souls now”. He also has a blue book.
In the wood two of the girls leave the tent and the are snatched by the biker. Another of them goes to look. She sees a figure in the distance but when she gets closer she finds it is a blue robe.
Two boys have entered the wood. One is struck by a stags tooth. and injured so that he cannot walk. The other comes across the two remaining girls. They see a coven dancing in the distance. One of the girls is drawn to them and the remaining two are taken by the biker. The film ends with all seven being burned in the fire tree.
With this information it is possible to work out who the biker is. Two of the characters have blue grimoire like books. They are clearly working together. In addition they have blue robes and have left one in the wood so it is them who are doing the killing. It appears that they have a coven linked to the colour blue.
This allows us to work out that Eve’s tutor is the biker and is working with Mrs Belial. The name Belial is linked to Lucifer and thus it is clear that she is connected. Mr Sheers clearly does not know them but does appear to be connected to Cochranianism and seems sympathetic to the missing Clef. There appears to be another coven using the colour red. Another teacher, Charlie, who Mr Sheers meets in a pub seems to be a senior member of this because he seems to know who Mrs Belial is but to not be friendly with her.
All of this makes for a good story, however what really makes the story interesting is the was that the red and blue covens reflect genuine theological differences within Cochranianism. Cochranians are widely seen as gnostics, however there are two diiferent types. The first of these view Lucifer as the primary deity and the other see Wisdom or Sophia as taking this role. It is clear that the blue robed group are Cochranians because they use ash, an important tool in Cochranian Craft. Those who follow Wisdom, a red coven, revere a horse-stag as their primary deity. The eating of the stag by Mrs Belial is a sacreligious act as she is eating the deity of the red robed coven. Thus we can see a genuine theological split reflected in the film.
Some may see the film as revealing the mysteries of Cochranianism, however the film makers do not appear to be Cochranians, or even Wiccans. As Cochrane said
“There is no secret in the world that cannot be discovered, if the recipient is ready to listen to it – since the very air itself carries memory and knowledge”.
The film makers have produced a film of great depth. It will be interesting to see whether it becomes a sleeper hit.