The Witch is a new film which will delight fans of horror stories and history alike. The writer and director of the film, newcomer Robert Eggers, won best director for this movie at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and the award was well deserved.
Due to a heavy writing schedule, I don’t get out to the movies very often but when I first saw the trailer for this film back in August, I knew I wanted to see it. It opened in theaters this weekend and I saw it last night.
This is not a typical horror movie but it’s not for the faint of heart and certainly not appropriate for children. However, fans of history will delight in the attention to period details.
The setting, lighting, and costumes are perfectly Puritan. The dialogue is so authentic the film could have used subtitles in modern English at points. Even the parts of the story that deal with the witch (and there is a witch) are steeped in New England folklore.
The film follows the story of a family which is banished from a New England settlement in 1630 because the father is too pious for the Puritans.
The family moves away and builds a small house and farm on the edge of a dark forest.
Things deteriorate quickly.
The family’s baby boy Samuel, disappears while being watched by eldest daughter Thomasin. Crops fail, the mother begins to lose her faith in God and the toddler twins Mercy and Jonas develop an unhealthy relationship with the family goat “Black Phillip.” The eldest son Caleb has an encounter with a mysterious woman in the woods and returns with a life threatening fever.
Accusations of witchcraft against Thomasin and paranoia follow as the family completely breaks down. Rather than jump scares or special effects, the horror unfolds in your mind along with the plight of the characters.
The largely unknown cast is outstanding, particularly Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin and Ralph Ineson as the father, William. Kate Dickie, who plays the mother Katherine is also strong and the kids who play the twins are the creepiest sibling duo since The Shining.
I will not spoil the ending for you and neither should you. If you see this movie, you’re better off going in knowing little about it. I will tell you however, that the final twenty minutes of the film is not what you’ll expect and you may want to go to church after leaving the theater.
This is not a movie for everyone, but if you’re a fan of New England history, period films, the Salem Witch Trials or scary stories, you’ll probably enjoy The Witch.
The movie is Rated R for nudity and violent content. You can watch the original trailer below.
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