Written and directed by Robert Eggers, The Witch is a horror film that follows a Puritan Christian family in 1630s New England who are torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession. William and Kathrine along with their five children are exiled and forced to live in isolation on the outskirts of a wooded area. What follows is a slow unraveling of the mind and a building up of unexplainable and terrible events.
I will start by saying I absolutely loved this film. The acting was believable, mostly. The twins were a bit annoying, but the older children and the parents were played very well. The setting and cinematography were perfect. I felt fully immersed in this world and I fully believed it was an accurate representation of the time period.
The real question though is, did it scare me? I’ll tell you it most certainly did and in all the ways I believe a horror film should. Through an intense score interlaced with long stretches of silence, episodic scenes and surprisingly fast pace, and the nearly nonexistent explanation really put you into minds and heart of the members of this family. You feel their isolation, their religious fervour, their paranoia, and their mental exhaustion.
Eventually, you will feel a bit sad, then you will feel disturbed and afraid. The tension builds, and builds, and you go home still feeling it because that tension is hardly resolved in the end. This movie stays with you.
The film is not for everyone for sure. We saw in a theater and afterward the couple to our right immediately began discussing the details of the film and how much they liked it. The man to our left, however, said “Welp, that movie sucked” as soon as the credits started rolling. If you like jump-scares and monsters hiding out in dark corners this might not be for you. If you like movies like The Shining or It Follows then you might like this.
I like a horror film that makes me feel uncomfortable, like something is slowly coming after you but there is no way you can never escape it. To me, that is where real fear lies. The Witch makes us feel isolated, stressed, afraid, and paranoid. We feel that just like this family we are alone to face this danger that will keep coming every day and there is nowhere we can run to and no way for us to fight.
Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?
// Black Phillip
P.S. I want to take a moment and discuss a surprising favorite from the film, Black Phillip, the goat. Yeah, I know he’s just a goat but he was surprising expressive and creepy. Loved the name too! Here’s a trailer featuring him almost exclusively: