If the 17th Century could make a movie (by Ivaylo_Sotirov)
If people from the 17th Century could make a film about their deepest darkest horrors - it would look a lot like this movie! The Witch engrosses you in the time and place of its setting, it's a family drama, a horror and a folk tale. All interwoven together into a macabre ode of the times when people were frightened of the primeval darkness of the forests and the inexplicable twists of their wretched fates. Intense and gripping from the very beginning. With some of the most amazing acting I've seen by the youngest cast members. Fantastic movie for horror fans and a masterful period <more>
piece. I would recommend it highly to horror fans and fans of history and good cinema in general.
An unnerving, surreal descent into religious paranoia (by brchthethird)
THE WITCH is, in a word, unsettling. Horror films don't normally have an effect on me, much less scare me, but this one was unnerving in a very palpable way. It's about a Puritan family who are banished from their village for an unspecified religious offense, and subsequently move to a location bordering a forest. While there, repeated misfortune and isolation create the perfect storm of religious paranoia over whether one or more of them are possessed by the devil. What THE WITCH masterfully does is to create this tense atmosphere and maintain it over nearly the entire length of the <more>
film. Whether it be odd/surreal imagery, slow and deliberate camera-work, or an eerie score reminiscent of Ligeti's "Atmospheres" used in Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY , all of it is used to brilliant effect and should be capable of rattling even the most seasoned viewer, especially if they have a religious background/upbringing as I did . In fact, I sensed a lot of Kubrick here; not just 2001, but also THE SHINING. Not surprisingly, they share some thematic elements. The performances were also pitch perfect and very believable for the characters the actors played and, although this might prove hard to get by for some, they speak in period-authentic language/accents. Ultimately, the film is rather ambiguous as to whether or not the events occur in the manner you see them, but that's the beauty of it: like religion itself, THE WITCH is open to interpretation. And as such, it establishes itself in my opinion as one of the best horror films of the last 10 years.
I saw this movie a couple of times already and it still lingers in my head everyday. The tone and imagery of this film crawled inside me and nestled itself in my mind like no other had in a long time.The aspects of the film lighting, sound, dialog, pacing, composition created an atmosphere so real I was no longer sitting on my couch watching, but rather living this inherited puritan nightmare. This was the result of a director who not only painstakingly researched every aspect of colonial life in the 1630s, but who also executed his ideas with striking confidence.Calling this movie scary <more>
doesn't due justice to how truly powerful and intense the horror scenes feel. He doesn't hold back, shy away with the camera or use bullshit jump-scares to frighten you. Rather he composes scenes like an artist would a painting. In fact, I would almost say this film could be seen as a Fransisco Goya painting brought to life. He focuses in on the evil at hand, while still maintaining a sense of unknown and wonder. He is brilliant at what he shows you, but more in what he doesn't show.Films like these don't come around very often. There is true passion seen here by a very hungry, driven and intelligent director. I am truly impressed and hope he has a long and successful career.
The best part about The Witch, besides the acting, is the dichotomy between drama and what is actually a surprisingly fast paced and accessible horror movie with few genre clichés. The film could be looked at as two separate stories heavily intertwined: the supernatural horror of the woods vs the very real terror of violence erupting within the family, and amazingly this is all done seamlessly, missing no beats and never seeming to give up one for the other. In that way, The Witch has the elegance of a clever children's story A New England Folk Tale to be precise with the intensity <more>
of a melodrama. This would never have worked if the cast didn't kill every role, but luckily for us they did; they murdered those roles.I don't think I've ever actually seen a movie during which people, in the middle of a crowd, screamed. The Witch did that. The Witch made people scream and gasp so loud the whole room heard and it did other things too: it told an engrossing, intelligent story. There are minor "complaints" I may have that keep it from being 10/10 the shots don't carry the film as much as the writing, but really this is a horror film that could easily make a top ten list. It's just good fun and the ending is great... don't bash the ending... people are bashing the ending but I don't know why... it's really a perfect ending...
Calvinist terrors abound in this fraught "folk tale" (by drownnnsoda)
"The Witch" charts a family of Calvinist dissenters in colonial America who are exiled from their community and homestead at the edge of an ominous forest. When the infant child of the family disappears inexplicably, a chain of increasingly bizarre events lead to claims of witchcraft and sorcery that implode the family.Based on the plot summary, much about "The Witch" seems fairly predictable, and that's because it is. Robert Eggers makes no bones about reality or superstition here; this is, as it is branded, a "New England folktale" through and through. <more>
It's also allegorical on some levels, and is about an English family's failure to conquer the vast American frontier. Regardless of how it is read, the film's surface plays out like classic accounts of witchcraft and superstition that pervaded Puritan Calvinism in the seventeenth century.What director Eggers does here is weave a taut and unsettling narrative through a series of meditative visuals and haunting encounters with evil--some have said not much happens in the film, and they're right--but is that the point of such a tale? The story is mediated through phenomenal performances that are the real emotional center of the film, while rare but fantastical occurrences with the supernatural jar the audience as much they do the family.Eggers' direction is remarkable, and the cinematography consistently captures the gloom of a New England winter; close-ups show the younger children engaging with their ominous farm goat, while pans of characters venturing into the woods create a legitimate sense of danger--and that is another of the film's prevailing themes. In the film, the threat of danger lurks in all matter, be it in the natural environment, in doctrine, or the horrifying corporeal locus where the two meet.Overall, "The Witch" is a surprising and moody entry in the horror genre for 2016; it is not only recalling classicism in its period setting and narrative, but also in its cinematic approach to storytelling. It is old-fashioned in just about every way, but is no less masterful at creeping into the skin as insidiously as evil does within the family. We feel their terror, their desperation, and their yearning for absolution; and that is what makes the film such an effective mood piece. 9/10.
Oh my freaking god, this movie. I've seen it twice now and I'm sure there will be more views in the future. It's just so perfect — a masterpiece, really — and the fact that it is director Robert Eggers' feature film debut makes it even more impressive. The mood, the choice of actors, the historical accuracy, the sort of discordant and frantic music, the tension, the character development, the slow build of a more psychological horror, the setting they just nailed every aspect. The film takes place in 17th century New England and begins with the family — patriarch <more>
William Ralph Ineson , his wife Katherine Kate Dickie , their eldest daughter Thomasin Anya Taylor-Joy , son Caleb Harvey Scrimshaw , and fraternal twins Jonas Lucas Dawson and Mercy Ellie Grainger — being banished from their town due to a difference in interpretation of the New Testament. They build a farm by the edge of the woods, where Katherine gives birth to their fifth child, Samuel. When he goes missing, it is just the beginning of the family's descent into all kinds of despair and anguish.** SPOILERS! **The swiftness with which this movie delivers a feeling of all-encompassing hopelessness and isolation — starting just minutes in as we watch Thomasin numbly stare as their wagon heads off towards the woods, away from the town she calls home and from civilization as a whole — is intense. It almost doesn't matter what happens after that point — you feel the frustration contrasting with this stoic, stubborn determination immediately.I was actually impressed that they didn't film on location in New England due to tax incentives they opted for Canada , but the time Eggers put into finding a suitable location payed off because I easily believed it. The combination of the brilliant soundtrack done by Mark Korven , the editing, and the cinematography made an otherwise benign forest truly appear ominous, evil even at a distance, which I thought was impressive. I think it can be easy to make woods feel creepy while you're surrounded by them, but to give the impression that there's something sinister hiding within them awesome.They did a great job at keeping the witch herself very subtle — she's scary more for what we don't see than what we do. But the glimpses you DO get are terrifying.After Samuel disappears, Katherine's grief is overwhelming. I feel like so often in movies when a child dies or goes missing, the grief is sort of glossed over — it's implied. But the grief you feel from Katherine absolutely smothers you. It's raw and unapologetic.The film was shot entirely with natural light and damn, it shows. The outdoor shots manage to all be in this perfect, cloudy day light, and the indoor shots lit only by candles are just stunning. All of the indoor shots, really, are beautiful, and they did an amazing job at making the house feel extremely claustrophobic rather than cozy which cinematographer Jarin Blaschke contributes to the particular aspect ratio used while filming .It's an extremely religious movie but not in a way that offers any form of comfort or warmth. It's more about doing everything in your power to avoid God's punishment rather than to receive his mercy. There's a devoutness, a fierceness, a terrified tightrope walking of self-sacrifice. And as much as it's about religion, it's also about feminism — the quickness to cast evil onto something you don't understand or something you deem more powerful than it should be . Of course, in the time that this movie took place, women were accused of being witches for the most mundane of offenses — challenging societal norms, having colored skin, or even just being poor — so it's no surprise that Thomasin was quick to be accused by even her own mother, a strong woman in her own right though that power may have been misplaced.One of my favorite scenes, morbidly enough, is when Caleb dies after disappearing into the woods himself and reappearing inexplicably, naked and very ill. It's impressive enough when an adult can put on a convincing show of death in a movie, but when a 14-year-old does it you take notice. But just the sense of their world crashing in around them — first Samuel and now Caleb — and Katherine's hysteria paired with Caleb's intense visions is wild. You're just staring wide-eyed watching the entire scene. And then it follows up with what is probably the most heart-wrenching scene in the whole film — one of the most heart-wrenching I've ever seen — with first a wide shot of Katherine and William burying Caleb, and then Katherine climbing into the grave to hold him one last time. Ooof.William, I think, is one of the most complex characters in the film. He is desperate and mad with conviction but I believe truly trying to help his family the best he's able to. He, too, is like the God they worship — a cold hand on your shoulder reminding you to stay the course, a fierce reminder hissed in your ear.Ultimately, what I think is the best feat of all, is that this film makes no claim to whether it is reality or delusion. There's a brief mention of rot on the corn — so quick you'd likely miss it — and some types of rot can produce hallucinations if consumed. Are we simply seeing the fungus-induced visions of a struggling family, or something more visceral? We see Caleb being tempted to gaze at his sister's chest as her shift dips low is his temptation into the beautiful witch's cabin genuine, or simply a deeper metaphor for being drawn into evil? And Thomasin's final departure, her willingness to "live deliciously" does she actually float above the fire with the other witches, or is she simply choosing a life less rigid? We'll never know, and THAT is freaking brilliant.
Great Atmosphere, Great Sound, Different Kind of Movie (by my_anywhere)
I found "The Witch" to be a generally unnerving film, and one which--though I would not place it in the pantheon of scariest flicks I've ever seen--had some moments that I'll not easily forget.The atmosphere Eggers creates alone is enough to wrench serious dread from scenes other directors would be otherwise unable to make even remarkable. The score, too, helps cull this dark tone and adds life to a film that can be borderline tedious.That being said, "The Witch" is not for everyone. It is strange, slow but steady, gruesome at points, and almost un-watchable at <more>
others. There are two sides to this film; one which I had hoped the director would stick to concerning the family and their struggle with religion and isolation; and another which plays as an undercurrent to most of the film and then takes charge in the end. Sadly, it is this second side which keeps me from giving the film a better score, and that ultimately hurts the film in the very final scene.Overall, I enjoyed "The Witch" and its originality. Eggers has achieved a film that, for all its low-budget and independent film background, feels richer and better made than many horror entries of late. Should you decide to see it, a word of caution: do not expect a fast-paced movie full of jump scares and creepy crawlies emerging left and right. As the opening credits remind the audience, this is a folktale. One that does not shy away from exploring the real dark places.
This is a story set in the early colonial period of New England. It has the authenticity of a well-researched historical drama, up to and including dialogue delivered in a period accent and vocabulary softened a bit so that it's easy to understand . Instead of drawing on historical events, though, it draws on historical folklore -- it's the story of witchcraft afflicting a family, such as might have been told at the time.The characters are a very believable, ordinary family, with the sorts of tensions and problems you'd expect from people living a hard and substantially isolated <more>
life after being exiled from the local colonial town. They also have period Calvinist attitudes, and the storytelling doesn't present an outsider's view of this or offer a modern commentary, but instead it just displays these attitudes and tells a story from the characters' standpoint.Their reliance on period folklore means that it doesn't strictly follow modern horror movie tropes, either. It has the slow build of a modern psychological horror/thriller as well as the standard formula where tragedies start from tragic flaws, but the traditions it's drawing on depend on a Calvinist's conception of flaws, and treat witchcraft as a horrible, well-understood occurrence rather than a shocking supernatural surprise. This story applies these perspectives.It's very well done in terms of writing, acting, and other aspects of execution, so it might have cross-over appeal to fans of horror, folklore, or straight period drama from colonial America.
"The Witch" is horror for cinephiles, not as much horror genre fans (by Movie_Muse_Reviews)
There's another version of "The Witch" that could've existed. A Puritan family in New England gets terrified by a witch living in the woods, who torments them with supernatural Satanism. If you're saying to yourself, "wait, isn't that exactly what this movie is?" then you've come to the right review.I'm not what you'd call a fan of horror movies. I don't gravitate toward the genre and I almost never seek horror movies out in theaters. That said, any movie that garners critical acclaim or positive buzz piques my interest as a fan of cinema on <more>
the whole. "The Witch" lives in that territory as a horror movie for cinephiles, not for audiences who love the thrill of a good scare.That's not to say "The Witch" isn't scary; it is. It's just not scary in the modern trend-driven, formulaic, "movie trailer that ends with a jump-scare" kind of way. Writer and director Robert Eggers, who makes his feature film debut, builds his terror with tension drama and mystery, not by creating the pervasive sense that some creepy thing will pop into the frame at any moment.Eggers, a production designer first and foremost, builds his "Puritan nightmare" from the ground up, starting with all the tiniest era-appropriate details in the set, costumes and even dialogue. It doesn't take a historian to notice the immaculate craftsmanship and consideration of time and place. Eggers' devotion to this realism pays off in that the "The Witch" never loses its footing in reality even as more supernatural elements creep into the story. Well, until the end, but let's not go there except to say that by then, the realism matters much less.The story follows a Puritan family that leaves its plantation and village over religious differences and goes off to build a home near the edge of the woods. Suddenly, the family infant, Sam, disappears under the watch of the eldest child, Thomasin Anya Taylor-Joy . The incident devastates the mother Kate Dickie and father Ralph Ineson , who convince everyone it was a wolf that took Sam, but the tragedy trickles down to the four children, Thomasin, pre-teen Caleb Harvey Scrimshaw and young twins Jonas and Mercy. Of course, the audience is privy to what actually happened to Sam, and we know things will only get worse for the family.Considering the legitimate Puritan fear of Satan and witches, the subsequent events begin to tear into the family dynamics, which adds to the tension that already exists over what unnerving thing might happen next. The story could definitely have gone deeper into distrust and paranoia, but then it might have become too much of a "witch trial" movie.The way the movie ends will draw no shortage of opinions, but without a doubt, Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke have made an and utterly engrossing film that would be just as effective had it just been a period drama instead of a horror film – from a visual standpoint. Blaschke works almost exclusively with available natural light, which in addition to bolstering Eggers' emphasis on realism, keeps the specter of darkness and evil hanging over the family. In fact, had the film not marketed itself so overtly as a horror film, it might have been given more awards consideration. Regardless, Eggers delivers a remarkable feature debut that's a definite breakthrough candidate; he will certainly have a lot of eyes on his future projects. His focus on detail and strong cinematic instincts could work wonders on a more mainstream project, but if he opts for more small-budget genre films, no complaints here.~Steven CThanks for reading! Visit Movie Muse Reviews for more