The Witch

Corruption, thou art my father!” — William

Witches, man. Few things are scarier than them.

The VVitch (stylized) is a debut horror movie by director Robert Eggers. It’s a complex story about guilt and sin, fear and a loss of faith. We meet a family of Puritans exiled by their community. Right of the bat, their struggle is reminiscent of the banishment of Adam and Eve from Heaven, and we see them try to create a new home on the edge of a forest, cope with the loss of support from the Christian community and carve an illusion of normalcy in the wilderness of New England.

Things don’t go well for them. Their youngest child disappears while playing with their daughter Thomasin (played by the talented Anya Taylor-Joy), and we discover early on that it was taken by a witch to be used in a ritual. Due to the excommunication of the father for his fanatical religious views, the baby wasn’t able to be baptized. This meant that it was inherently sinful and susceptible to the forces of evil. The other characters are also flawed, most notably with the father, William (Ralph Ineson) representing self-indulgence and hypocrisy, and Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) falling victim to lust.

It’s a folk story, and as such, it’s deeply rooted into the very human experiences of the family, although wrapped in a supernatural veil. It’s ambiguous whether there’s actually an evil hiding in the woods. Yes, we do see it, but there’s more to it than a simple monster flick. The family is isolated, and the things they experience could be attributed to religious paranoia. The transformation of Thomasin is a symbol of her growing up into puberty, and we see how the fear of this transformation affects her. The sacred bonds of family are torn apart by secrets, lies, accusations of sin and decisions made in confusion, all of which turn out to be the work of Satan disguised in a black goat. Yeah, the goat is a bit of a cliché, but this is one creepy goat.

Just wait till it starts talking.

This is a slow-burning movie in the veins of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining that observes an entire family’s descent into madness. Katherine, the mother, is especially gut-wrenching to observe, as we see the instant effects of guilt on her as she loses each child one by one. She needs someone to blame, and turns against her own child as she tries to make sense of what’s going on.

Suspenseful and atmospheric from the get-go, The Witch creates an authentic image of 17th century Plymouth, creating immersion by using a dialect and accents that is close to historical accuracy. The film’s fear factor is amplified by the desperation of its characters caused by the guilt that is tied to the movie’s religious undertones. The storytelling is smooth and seamless, with a satisfying resolution. The shots are carefully composed, with the use of natural light and period-appropriate costumes. The feelings of gloom are supported by the minimalist yet tense score.

The Witch was received very well. Both the audience and the critics praised the movie for its pace and power, and really, if you’ve seen it, you know how effortlessly it it bewitches the viewer (get it?) and resonates with the basic fear a lot of us have within us. A fear for our soul. If you haven’t seen it and want an experience of horror that doesn’t need to rely on cheap tricks, go grab a copy right now.

IMDb 3.4 /5
3.4 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4.5 /5
4.5 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4 /5
4 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

3.97out of 5

Good
3.97 out of 5
Category Horror

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