A 17th Century family are excommunicated from their Puritan village when the father, William, disagrees with the religious teachings of the village. In the middle of nowhere, the family run their farm with their faith to God firmly by their side. However, when the youngest child, Samuel, goes missing the family begin to spiral out of control.
The Witch is one of those films that leaves you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The atmosphere created by first time Director Robert Eggers allows for little to no period of comfort. Whether a shot of the bleak, English woodland lingers a little too long or you lean closer to listen to the whispers in the shadows, it’s hard to sit back and watch with ease. But it’s the perfect atmosphere or the film.
As things for the family begin to get worse, with the oldest son Caleb becoming ill or possessed depending on how you look at it, suspicion falls on the play of black magic. The way that the film depicts religion is horrific in its own right – there’s a particular scene in which William makes his family fast to remind them what they’re thankful for – there are times where I found myself questioning which of the two religions would be better to take up. Thomasin’s family are quick to accuse her of being the witch causing the family grief and while she jests to her younger siblings that she is a witch (to scare them into behaving) she seems to be the only one in the family not struggling with her own inner demons. The Witch gives an insight into a family that put religion before their love for one another, which for me makes for disturbing viewing. (See Carrie for more)
The film wouldn’t work half as well if it wasn’t for the great acting. While Anya Taylor-Joy gives a strong, compelling performance as Thomasin, it’s Ralph Inseon playing William that stands out for me. In between the plot and the atmosphere The Witch is intense but Inseon brings a calmness to his role. For all intense and purposes, he should be brutish. But he isn’t. Even when he suspects his daughter has killed his youngest child and cursed his eldest son, he holds back is performance and keeps it bubbling under the surface. It adds incredibly to the uncertain atmosphere because you never know when he’s going to explode. Or if he will.
Overall, The Witch was engrossing and engaging from the start. Don’t go into this film wanting a fast paced, action packed horror. It’s a slow burner. It gently claws at you and crawls under your skin until you can’t help but shuffle in your seat. The film’s final act brings only some resolution, I found myself wanting more but being glad that I could relax because it was over.
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all the best,