Presented by Spindle Collective
Samca is an atmospheric, folk horror tale that feels both fresh and intimately familiar. In rural Transylvania, two sisters, Miha and Prava, are inextricably linked to an ancient mythological creature known as Samca. She preys on women specifically and her presence is rife with allegorical significance.
Their tale is narrated by a collection of fertility forest spirits who sing and dance around the sisters as the horror unfolds. In addition to traditional instruments like guitar and banjo, a saw with bow provides an eerily sonorous accompaniment.
Sexual awaking, rape, pregnancy and motherhood figure prominently as the two sisters encounter men in the woods. Venturing into the forest fraught with both dangers and delights, they have iconic baskets over their arms, drawing quite explicit reference to Little Red Riding Hood.
The script is full of deliberately uncomfortable religious rhetoric with its unhealthy ideas of female sexuality. There is the heretical pleasure a woman might find in it or else a godly fear of violation and impurity. Babies, too, are more than mere offspring, but represent the potential to be saviours or monsters. One such unborn baby drives a Puritan wedge between the sisters.
Written by Natalia Bushnik and Kathleen Welch, the script pays homage to folk horror conventions. Director Brendan Kinnon’s staging is understated, with grotesque terrors creeping at the edges. Nature figures prominently. A rustic carpet of leaves and twigs covers the stage. Live action footage of rustling trees and water bubbling over rocks plays on a background screen, though this imagery is actually more distracting here than world-building.
All performers—Bushnik, Welch, Madeline Kennedy, Andra Zlâtar, Jenna Geen, Camila Farah, and Sydney Nicholson—are charismatic. And together, they exude a communal intensity.
The finale explicitly states a subtextual aspect of the narrative. Though the moment is quite arresting, this what it’s all really about coda rubbed me the wrong way. I’d rather be invited to unpack a story’s themes than have its message dropped in my lap.