If I have to sum up this movie in one word, it would be “unnerving.”
Robert Eggers’ directorial debut of an excommunicated 17th Century Puritan family is a welcome throwback to horror films of the past that focused moreso on atmosphere and suspense rather than jump scares and all those darn jump scares. The feeling I had throughout The Witch was that of pure anxiety because of the environment Eggers managed to create.
The first act and final ten minutes or so of this film had me at the literal edge of my seat. I found myself with my feet planted straight on the ground rather than the usual position I’m in of cross-leggedness. The fear of the unknown was present throughout and the acting was actually incredible, considering more than half of the cast consists of humans under the age of 20. Anya Taylor-Joy was particularly a standout as Thomasin (it’s not a coincidence she has the word ‘sin’ in her name) and it was nice seeing Lady Lysa (Kate Dickie) play a character she’s not really familiar with: a complete loon.
I originally thought I would become fatigued watching children speak Shakespearean-style English, however they were phenomenal and I actually believed I was watching a family from the 1800’s attempting to explain just what the ever living fuck was going on with them.
Attempting to decipher exactly what was going on was a bit of a task. There were more than a couple of times I found myself asking “wait… what?” The intrigue of wanting to know what was going to happen was certainly there, however I believe if there was just a bit more explanation I think I would’ve liked the overall plot more… I do have to give major props to any horror film that strives to scare the audience psychologically rather than noisily/annoyingly so the actual aesthetic and tone of the film had me hooked. Honestly if horror focuses more on channeling that of The Babadook, The Conjuring and The Witch rather than the Paranormal Activity 70 or Ouija, we will be in for some genuine scares. PLEASE FILMMAKERS, STRIVE FOR GREATNESS.
If you’re looking for a movie that is a bit tedious of a watch, however will give you a sense of dread throughout and actually care about what will happen to the characters in a horror movie, check out The VVitch. That’s right. I did the VV thing.
The Witch receives 3.5/5 Matt Damon heads