Dead Hot: Season of the Witch (2023) Review – Horror On Tubi
Dead Hot: Season of the Witch follows actor Vanessa Hudgens and musician GG Magree as they travel to Salem, Mass. With a new found interest in Witchcraft and the paranormal. The pair aim to investigate local hauntings but end up discovering a lot more in the process.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. It’s the final day of our Low Budget Horror on Tubi feature. What better way to wrap things up than with something that isn’t actually a horror and, actually, is barely a movie at all? Today we are reviewing Dead Hot: Season of the Witch from 2023.
For those of you who are just stumbling across this site. For the month of June, we have been covering nothing but low budget horror on Tubi. We have been looking for the crème de la crème of crud. The pièce de résistance of poo. The cordon bleu of crap. You get the picture. What we found was actually quite surprising. Some of these movies were pretty good. ReSet, Lexi and The Andy Baker Tape were all completely watchable. Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism was, actually, great.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t find any stinkers, though. Sleepless Unrest had us catching some Zs. Chest left us with a tight and uncomfortable feeling in our thorax. And Something Walks in the Woods has us staying away from forested areas for the near future. It’s been pretty rough going but it is almost done. Just one more movie to get through. Hopefully it’s a good one!
We wanted to wrap this feature up with a Tubi Original. It seems only right considering the feature was based around low budget Tubi horror. We checked the watch list and two things came up. A movie about people being attacked by sharks and this. Now I was all ready to watch some people having their limbs removed by the lions of the sea. But my fiancee suggested we check this one out instead. I mean, we love witches and the Salem witch trials are fascinating. What a big mistake!
Dead Hot: Season of the Witch is not horror. Not in the slightest. It is horrible, but it is definitely not horror. I have to make that clear because Tubi sure as hell didn’t. Slapping this in the horror section is akin to calling Grave Encounters a factual documentary. Dead Hot is about as far away from horror as you can possibly get. As the movie goes on, it seems to get further and further away.
This movie can best be described as a Vanessa Hudgens vanity project. And I say this as someone who thinks Hudgens is insanely talented. Dead Hot is advertised as an exploration into witchcraft, the paranormal and all things supernatural. Dead Hot is actually a trip into the minds of two people that seem a little lost and could probably use some counseling. Searching for answers to life’s questions in hokey witchcraft rituals, paranormal con artists and spell books.
Much of what happens here is presented as fact. Despite, clearly, being the work of manipulating third parties and an over enthusiastic pair of mates looking for answers. Hudgens, and her friend, GG Magree, spend nearly two hours overreacting to non-events and finding meaning in the meaningless. This entire movie is like a drunken conversation that you think is really insightful. Only to wake up the next day realising how much of a twat you made of yourself.
A Little Backstory
This movie comes about, strangely, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. When most celebrities were singing Imagine on Zoom and telling us to stay indoors while chilling in their cavernous mansions. Vanessa Hudgens was hitting up Google and searching the terms “I am a Witch!!1!”, “Am I a Witch?” and “Is Witches real?”. Apparently fostering a new found interest in everything supernatural.
She hosted Witchy zoom calls (because even the supernatural has to get with the times). She learned spells and she began conceiving one of the worst pieces of media I have ever watched. Describing herself as a self taught student of witchcraft. Hudgens teams up with her bestie, musician GG Magree. And heads over to Salem to see whether she can make the tragic and horrific witch trials into something about herself. Sounds harsh but that is really what this movie is about.
Brushing off the hokey nature of typical paranormal investigations. And aiming for something altogether more mature and considered. What starts as a somewhat interesting look into the atrocities faced by women during the trials. Quickly devolves into hokey paranormal investigations centered around two people who both eagerly want the spotlight. Once again, this is not horror. This is reality TV disguised as an investigation into the supernatural.
It’s Probably Gonna Piss Some People Off
The majority of Dead Hot features Hudgens and Magree conducting paranormal investigations in, supposedly, haunted locations in Salem. These segments are then woven together with scenes of the ladies discussing the events. As well as scenes where the pair meet up with incredibly cooky paranormal “experts”. Who cold read the pair and, essentially, promote their pseudo skills as fact while conducting strange ceremonies.
I’ll make it very clear at this point. If you take your paranormal and witchcraft stuff seriously. I can only imagine the people in this movie, and their somewhat Devil may care approach to the subject, will probably piss you off. I’m not big into paranormal stuff but I know a lot of people are so this bears mention. Everything here is handled in a way that can only be described as a bit tongue in cheek. Fans of the paranormal take this shit very seriously whereas the ladies here really do not.
Hokey Paranormal Investigations
The investigations are no less hokey than any other paranormal investigations you have ever seen. The only real difference is the incredibly histrionic reactions of the two women. Particularly Magree who seems a little wired. I’m not sure how many drugs were involved in the production of this documentary. But I am gonna guess the answer is somewhere between “many” and “a lot”. B-Roll of the women wandering from location to location plays against a soundtrack of awful electronic pop music. All while Hudgens seems to grow less and less interested in what is going on.
I’ll say this before I carry on. Despite my many criticisms. It is nice to see women at the helm of a paranormal investigation. I’m not at all a fan of ghost hunter type stuff but I am aware of just how male dominated the scene is. Don’t get me wrong. There are a bunch of female paranormal investigators coming up that do a brilliant job. Taking the subject of spirits as serious as your doctor telling you that you might want to take a seat. But it’s still cool to see things from a female perspective. It’s also nice to see the camaraderie between Hudgens and Magree. Even if it feels high effort and a bit forced, at times. But to say this is anything other than hokey would be a lie.
A Coming of Age Tale?
I used the term “vanity project” earlier. Because it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t about Salem. This isn’t about the atrocities committed against women there. And it isn’t about the paranormal. Dead Hot is about Vanessa Hudgens and GG Magree finding themselves. Now, I am directly quoting the marketing here. Dead Hot: Season of the Witch is described as: “an intimate journey into the supernatural realm that serves as a coming-of-age story that explores identity”.
I am really confused. Do they mean a “coming of middle age” story? This is two women who are approaching 35. Ladies, you have already come of age. It’s done, your body is already dying. I’m there too, it sucks but youth is tremendously fleeting.
This movie is advertised as some inspirational tale of two people finding sisterhood and beating the odds. The truth is, it is a tale of two incredibly privileged people. Finding ways to absolve themselves of blame for everything that has gone wrong in their lives. And seeking answers in something that is as fictional as High School Musical. There is never any true insight here. Just two people complaining that the things that they have been blessed with. Have lead to some realities that they aren’t quite comfortable with.
I’m sorry if everyone only knows you for a Disney channel film from the naughties. It’s a real shame that Magree can’t hold down a relationship. But if you expect people to play a violin for your struggles. Despite the pair of you being incredibly privileged. You are probably barking up the wrong tree. Unfortunately, this movie is really only going to appeal to fans of Hudgens. Everyone else is going to find these two ladies pretentious and rather annoying.
And Sooo Childlike
The coming of age thing sort of makes me laugh because these two act like they are 17. Hudgens and Magree come across incredibly immature for the majority of this documentary.. My fiancee kept remarking on why they repeatedly talk in a child like manner. I really couldn’t give her a solid answer. I just don’t think these two people have moved past their teens. It makes for awkward and frustrating viewing. A desire to know more about the locations they visit. Or even to learn a bit more about the witch trials. Is quickly squashed under a barrage of infantile behaviour and fake laughter.
Now let’s be real for a minute. Whether you like her or not. Vanessa Hudgens is a versatile and talented performer. Who, probably, hasn’t been afforded the opportunities she deserves. Be it because of the nefarious hacking incident over a decade ago. Or due to her position as a child actor. The majority of people who tune into this movie will, likely, be doing it because they are a fan of hers.
If you fall into that category, you may be disappointed. You are going to have to put up with Magree’s constant hogging of the limelight. Magree, unfortunately, does not play sidekick well. She has a tendency to draw attention to herself. Whether by being obnoxiously loud. Forcing emotional reactions to the events. Or simply pushing her way into focus. This, inadvertently, pushes Hudgens into the background. Something that is somewhat frustrating as Hudgens can be rather thoughtful and plays events off with more skepticism. If this movie focused purely on Hudgens. I think we might have been onto something. The two of them together, however, bring out the worst in each other.
Any Positive Points?
I suppose some people might find Dead Hot funny in parts. The humour is very much that of two women acting like they are teenagers and having a laugh. But if that is your trip then you will enjoy some of the pair’s interactions. If you are a fan of Magree’s music then good for you. The movie is littered with it. Hudgens fans may enjoy seeing a more intimate side of her character. As well as hearing some of her insight into things. Even if it does fall very much into the “Woe is me”, self pitying celebrity category that we are all so familiar with.
The themes of sisterhood and female togetherness are a definite positive. Don’t get me wrong. I think the whole witchcraft thing is used to gloss over some issues that the ladies probably need counselling for. Especially Magree when it comes to her need to be loved. Something which hints at potential personality disorder traits. As well as her prevailing feelings regarding her Grandmother’s death.
But it is good to see women promoting togetherness. In a world that is extremely focused on LGBTQ+ concerns and racism. Female specific issues are being increasingly ignored. Pushed aside to wave a flag that is far more trendy at the moment. Women and girls absolutely need to see positive representations of female togetherness. And these two women seem to be a good example of that. It’s really nice to see.
Final Thoughts and Score
If you are looking at this movie as a potential option for a night of paranormal investigation fun. You may be disappointed. Whereas Vanessa Hudgens and GG Magree bring along all the fancy equipment and ghost hunting tools. They also bring along limited knowledge of the subject and histrionic overreactions. Potentially interesting investigations into haunted locations. Actually turn out to be little more than cursory glances used as an excuse for more self discovery. This is not a movie for paranormal fans and, most definitely, not a movie for fans of horror.
This is a movie that sells short the interesting subject of the Salem witch trials. As well as selling short the interesting topic of witchcraft as a whole. Keen to, instead, spend its time indulging in the childlike behaviour of its two hosts. Promoting the abilities of paranormal con artists. And portraying, clearly, fabricated events as being real.
Dead Hot: Season of the Witch is little more than a Vanessa Hudgens vanity project. Likely to leave non-fans of hers confused and actual fans disappointed. Whereas the themes of sisterhood and female togetherness are a definite positive. The movie itself has very little to offer.
Thanks for reading. We ended our Horror on Tubi feature on a sour note. But, let’s be real, the ending of this one was inevitable. The fact that we found anything worth recommending is amazing in and of itself. If you enjoyed this, stick around and read some horror reviews. I also put together Horror Movie Lists and spend way too long explaining horror movie endings.