This movie may not be for everyone, but if you surrender to the intensity of The Witch, you will be rewarded with an amazing – and very scary – story.
If you follow news and reviews for horror movies, then The Witch is one of those movies you really haven’t been able to miss. It’s anything but a traditional horror movie, because of its pace, dialogue, and very simple plot.
If I was to compare it to anything more modern, it would probably be the Blair Witch story, since this also takes place in a forest and the real question is whether the witch is real or simply a scary story. However, make no mistake, The Witch is a lot less hype and jump scares, and offers a very deep and relevant fear.
The intensity of The Witch comes from two very relevant elements for me; The power of religion and the history of what happened to women, who were accused of being a witch. Religion is a very powerful driving force in The Witch and especially the mother of the family – played with fierceness by Kate Dickie, who you’ll probably recognize from Prometheus or Game of Thrones – is fighting with her own faith.
The family is struggling and God seems unwilling to help her, which is making her turn away from religion. Until she finds something – or someone – to blame in the form of her older daughter, who is becoming a woman and therefore a threat to the parents and children dynamic. At least that seems to be how her mom sees it. The father is a very God-fearing man and holds on to both his faith and his love for his children, but not without paying a price.
When things go wrong and people struggle, we always look for a reason why – and in doing so, a way out of the misery. In this case, even the goat called “Black Phillip” is somewhere in between comfort (to the youngest kids) and danger because the goat becomes a symbol of everything wrong.
The Witch has a very simple plot and writer-director Robert Eggers has based the dialogue on writing from the time [the 1630s], which is perfect for the story. Everything about The Witch is so pure and straightforward that it’s difficult not to be impressed – and scared – by the story being told. Still, when the movie was over I realized I had been at the edge of my seat and mesmerized by the performances. Especially Anya Taylor-Joy is absolutely breathtaking. This is her debut in a credited role, but it is in no way surprising that she already has two pretty major movies coming out with Morgan and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.
This was the feature film debut for Robert Eggers as both screenwriter and director, but with the critical acclaim (including winning several awards and introducing a new rising star in Anya Taylor-Joy) I expect we’ll be seeing more great things from him. Hopefully soon.
The Witch is out on DVD and Blu-ray now!
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
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