The Witch is a thought provoking, visually delicious boutique horror film. With a slow descent into madness driving the film into unsettling eeriness, this is quite unlike any other horror movie, ever seen or felt. With startling imagery and a cacophonous score, this folkloric nightmare simmers with ever escalating dread, even after the credits have rolled.
Dread gives way to despair, as a puritan family in the 1630s encounter forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm.
Robert Eggers, breaks barriers in this spell bounding directorial debut. It is clearly evident the amount of researched devoted to the film, the archaic production quality and true Old English vocabulary, brings a near Shakespearean ambiance to the film. Its an absolute delight of originality and a perfect example of how a movie can be terrifying without any actual horror.
The bleak yet haunting cinematography casts a layer of creepy atmosphere, alongside with a discordant score of anxious strings, unnatural scrapes and a ghastly choir. It composes a sense of utmost paranoia and fear for all characters involved. The performances altogether bring an authenticity to the story, Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, Thomasin, perfectly encapsulates a sense of innocence and an awakening femininity. The true brilliance of The Witch, is the mindset all these characters place you in.
It is mostly a psychological film, heavily focusing on the family’s religious fuelled reaction to the idea of a witch tormenting them. Without relying on jump scares to strike fear into an audience, or gore, the horrific details are in what you don’t see.
The Witch takes on very real issues – religion, grief, hysteria and distrust. However, general audiences may feel cheated out of a horror film, as each scene leaves you hanging by a thread, with no pay off. After watching this with my partner, I wanted to slap him across the back side of the head, after he turned to me and uttered the words “that wasn’t scary” … Since when did the term ‘scary’ only belong to those moments of cheap thrills? The average movie-goer shouldn’t berate this film for its slow building nature for not being ‘scary’. This visceral period piece illustrates the difference between horror and terror. In an age of franchise horror films and found footages spooks, this is why our beloved genre is never taken seriously.
The Witch is a movie that demands repeat viewings (perhaps with subtitles for certain scenes), it’s an intelligent evocative film enveloped in broody atmosphere, a chilling score and hypnotizing performances.
With a bewitching final act, The Witch’s true impact reveals itself once the credits have rolled and your left to your thoughts as it stays buried beneath your skin.
9.5 / 10
“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”