DIRECTOR: Robert Eggers
WRITER: Robert Eggers
A family in 16th century New England are banished from their Puritan congregation when the patriarch has a different interpretation of the New Testament. When they build their new farm and crops on the edge of a dark forest, strange things start to happen to the family after their youngest is kidnapped by a witch and taken into the woods. The family starts to believe that their banishment from the plantation is the reason they now have been cursed by the witch that lives in the forest.
I still remember the positive word of mouth that came out of Sundance Film Festival for The Witch. The movie was so well received after coming out of the festival that I remember reading one critic's review who had called The Witch one of the scariest movies ever made. So to say I was excited to see the film was an understatement. It's a favourite quote that is used every single time a horror film impresses on the festival circuit and almost every single time it fails to live up to its humongous hype. With The Witch, I had my fingers crossed.
Once The Witch was released, and critics started throwing praise it's way, I got more excited to see the movie. When I finally ended up watching The Witch, I agreed with the critics. It's a solid and unnerving slow burn horror film that's a pretty impressive feature debut for director Robert Eggers. While not being one of the 'scariest movies ever made', It's still a very creepy and well-made film. I can't wait to see what Robert Eggers does with his next feature film. It would be interesting to see what he makes once he's got a decent budget behind him.
I think The Witch will be a movie that people will either love or hate. If people go in expecting some straightforward, mainstream movie about witches. I think people will walk out and be left disappointed. If you go in looking for a dark and brooding period piece that's authentic to the times and deals with heavy themes of religion and mass hysteria of witchcraft and the dark arts in the 16th century, you will walk out of this movie being impressed and hopefully disturbed by what is shown on screen.
When I first witnessed The Witch, I was left creeped out and found the slow-building tension and final really unnerving. Some of the scenes featured in this film were very dark and disturbing. The movie is never gratuitous in its display of gore and carnage, but the movie is one of those films where less is more. What is shown on screen while not over the top, it still left me feeling unsettled. It really is a testament to the writing and how Robert Eggers builds tension up to the boiling point by the film's third act.
It's well known by now that the filmmakers and production wanted the most realistic and authentic-looking movie that was set in those times. The sets, the lighting, and the costumes are all fantastic. I loved that the film was shot using only natural light. I'd usually make a complaint if scenes are hard to see, but whenever night hits in this movie, the filming with natural light makes the film look all the more creepy. The sets and costumes are also worth noting due to their authenticity.
The cinematography and visuals aren't overly complicated in the movie and only in the final scene do we see any moment where it appears that visual effects may have assisted the scene. The film remains free of a lot of CGI or fake looking visuals. The scenes in the forest are creepy and well shot. I even found a lot of the scenes with the animals to be unnerving as they play important parts in the story. I think this is a gorgeous looking film on such a small budget.
The acting is also incredibly impressive. Anya Taylor-Joy is fast becoming a favourite for me regarding genre films. She is smashing them out at the moment. Here she's our leading star and delivers a strong performance. She gets to have some fun at the end of the movie. Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie as her parents both deliver excellent performances. Kate Dickie is at her broken down and insane best in this movie.
Lastly, I must mention the score in The Witch. I'm not always one who notices a great score when watching films. Over the last six years, I've probably purchased six movie soundtracks. Thos are Kill List, Under The Skin, Lost River, Prometheus, and Mad Max Fury Road. Now I've bought The Witch. I love when a score can get under my skin or have my blood pumping, and The Witch did just that. It adds a lot of creepiness to an already creepy looking film.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A baby is chopped up and used as a moisturiser.
- A raven pecks off a woman's nipple.
- Someone is gored by a goat.
- A dead chicken, goat, and dog.
- A naked witch drinks from a dead goat.
- A goat blood instead of milk.
- Face repeatedly sliced open.
- A child's temple is nicked to drain blood.
The Witch is a creepy and unnerving folklore tale about witches in New England. The film is a slow burn horror that builds tension throughout its running time. The movie also boasts a solid cast and has some incredibly unsettling set pieces. The Witch is a story where less is more, and I think people will either love or hate it. This will divide people just on how the movie is paced. The movie doesn't offer up any easy questions or everything on a silver platter, and for that, I loved it even more. Definitely worth the repeated viewings.