Starring-Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson
Scott’s Review #446
Reviewed July 7, 2016
The Witch is a slow-build 2016 horror film that plods with sinister wickedness and left this viewer thinking well beyond the credits.
Is it a message movie?
Good versus evil and containing a definite religious umbrella encompassing the entire film, it is god against the devil, and guess which one wins out? To be transparent, this film will undoubtedly offend the staunch religious.
Set in 1600’s New England and entitled- “The Witch- A New England Folktale”, we meet a Puritan family banished from the village they inhabit.
They are forced to begin a life on their own and build a farm struggling to survive by selling family heirlooms in secret. William and Katherine are the parents, followed by a teenage daughter, Thomasin, son Caleb, and youngsters, Mercy and Jonas.
Their recent addition to the family, Samuel, is snatched by a mysterious creature appearing in the shape of a witch. We only see her draped in red as she sneaks into the woods holding the infant.
From the families perspective, they know not who (or what) has taken Samuel) and they tell themselves that it was a wolf, but soon they are not so convinced and Thomasin is assumed to be a witch.
I adore how this film is not set in modern times, undoubtedly a turn-off for some viewers. The thick English dialect is almost Shakespearean at times and challenging to follow at others, but rich in the culture at the same time.
The period is unsettling for some reason as is the absolute purity of the family- too good to be true? Much of the film is shot in the daytime- unlike many horror films- and this adds to the tension- combined with the creepy musical score- strings are used.
At one hour and thirty-two minutes, the very short film feels longer- it truly does move at a snail’s pace, but the final act makes up for this as something all along told me it would. It simply has a creepy feel to it and nightmarish events occur at the finale of the film.
Some of The Witch is open to interpretation. At times I suspected one family member or another of perhaps being evil, but the film is not that straightforward and some complexities arise.
For instance, do spirits possess animals? When Thomasin milks a goat and blood runs out is this supposed to represent female menstruation?
A thinking man’s horror film, which is refreshing within the horror genre or any other genre for that matter, The Witch is unorthodox and thought-provoking, which makes it a winner in my book.
Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Screenplay (won), Best First Feature (won)