The Witch (2016)
I hope you guys still like me after this…but I wasn’t in love with The Witch. Disturbing? Yes. Interesting? Sometimes. Scary? Not in the traditional sense.
Robert Eggers’ directorial debut of a historical horror film was impressive. His extensive research of the witch trial period of the 1600s paid off, and there was a level of tension that never quite left you. The eerie atmosphere created in the film was on the mark…it’s just that with the atmosphere, I was ready for something to happen, and there’s not a whole lot of action happening.
A family is excommunicated from their community in New England after coming over from England. The dad of the family won’t keep his mouth shut and is shunned due to “prideful conceit.” The family of seven must set up their own tiny farm in a remote area, and not a lot goes well for them thereafter.
When the baby of the family is strangely kidnapped and the farm won’t yield any crops, the family doesn’t know how to deal and fear for survival takes over. The family begins to turn on each other as they accuse each other of witchcraft. The person most accused, though, is the oldest daughter, who just so happens to be coming into her womanhood.
When we actually do get to see witches, DAMN are they horrifying – and they have no qualms about killing kids for a variety of sinister purposes. I just wish there were more of them. There’s a lot of downtime; I have no problem with a slow burn, but for a 90 minute movie, I believe it’s too much downtime, and I would have liked more focused on the witch…although I will say that there are moments from the film that were so difficult to watch that I couldn’t get them out of my head for days after.
The film isn’t just about witchcraft. It’s about extreme paranoia, religious fanaticism and guilt, how women’s sexuality was deemed as sinful, and how all of these can tear a family apart. Each person in the family has indulged in their share of sinful behavior, but when your back is against the wall, you attack others in order to survive. The film is smart and makes the viewer think about the parallels between the then and now, and there are a lot of layers to get through. It even starts to get the viewer a little paranoid about who really might be a witch.
The final scene is creepy, intense, and unexpected. Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?
Jessica's Final Review
Truthfully, as I was writing this review, I started to like the film more. The acting was great, which many horror films lack. Eggers' research paid off - you never feel like they're in a time period other than 1630. The cinematography is perfect for this type of film. I think The Witch was just a victim of over-hyping, as any good horror film is now. As far as a folktale goes, it was quite well told. And as I mentioned before, the witches are absolutely terrifying. I'll have to re-watch this one, as I'm sure there are answers to questions that I missed the first go around.