Horror Movie Review: 'The Witch'
In this terrific New England folktale, a banished devote Christian family now resides on the edge of a daunting forest. The family slowly turns on one another, displaying their overwhelming fear of the devil. Thomasin watches her family be picked a part one by one, until she’s the only one left.
The witch is introduced instantly, taking a newborn child to her home where she kills him, rubs his own blood on him and then eats him. The terrifying mystery in the woods is exposed immediately, which is an interesting yet considerable decision.
Unlike most horror films, the movie is not about the scary thing waiting to be revealed. “The Witch” unveils the horror element and displays the effect it has on the family. Thus, the mystery becomes a question of whether it the family’s insanity or the supernatural forces which cause these inexplicable horrors.
“Evil takes many forms” is an evident theme throughout the film – portraying every character and many animals as the source of evil. Director Robert Eggers also provides insight into the feministic aspect of this story. During this time period, men feared the power of women, convinced of their witchcraft. Women even began to believe themselves to be witches.
In the end, Thomasin watches the death of her father and is forced to kill her hysterical mother in self-defense. She then makes an agreement with the demonic goat to wander into the woods to join the coven of witches. The final scene provides a phenomenal ending to the intense drama that has played out.
The filming style drags you into this environment with slow moving frames and tall shots. The amount of detail put into the film furthers the realism. The set was built as a fully functional farm and the costumes are completely hand stitched. Cinematographer Jarin Blaschke reported that the film was shot using mostly natural light.
“The Witch” sustains tension throughout, but rather than leading to jump scares it portrays a much larger unveiling of evil. Eggers has done exceptionally well at keeping this movie open to interpretation. There is not one concrete answer of what happened to the Puritan family.
Anya Taylor-Joy is a remarkable actress who gave a unique performance in this film. Eggers said Thomasin was originally thought to be awkward and homely, but Taylor-Joy portrayed a mysterious and intense teenager ready to break out of the Puritan lifestyle.
Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie star as the parents, William and Katherine. Both stars of “Game of Thrones,” Ineson and Dickie provide an amazing performance of troubled, confused and absolutely terrified parents.
Eggers’ extensive knowledge on the topic provides extreme accuracy and captivation for this film. He spent years researching the time period, folktales and even the language. Examining various documents, books and primary sources to structure speech and find specific lines.
“The Witch” has even been endorsed by the Satanic Temple, which “facilitates the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists and advocates for individual liberty.” The temple believes the film to be “a transformative Satanic experience.”
“The Witch” is in theaters now.