Horror Review: The Witch (2015)
Spoilers! I have to admit, when I first watched this film it didn’t resonate with me. But my theory is that it must have been because of the tiny TV I was viewing on. Because after rewatching it I am such a fan.
The Witch stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, and Sarah Stephens. It was written and directed by Robert Eggers. Eggers is also known for The Lighthouse and The Northman. The film falls firmly into the category of folk horror. It tells the story of a family who has been excommunicated from a Puritan settlement in New England. Soon after the family resettles in an isolated patch of land along the forest, the youngest child disappears. We soon understand that there is a witch lurking in the woods.
It’s fascinating that the film was only light practically with either daylight or candles. Eggers wanted to give the film a realistic look for the time period. Despite the mythical horror that emerges, the film does a great job at portraying the hardships of life for those who endured this time period.
It also explores the “witch hunt,” in a micro ecosystem. Within the family, everyone starts to blame each other, questioning each other. Panic and distrust spread very quickly and hypocrisy runs rampant. You can feel the tension and fear as the stakes continue to rise.
One thing that I really loved about this film after rewatching it is how much it plays with the folklore of New England witches. Elements like flying ointment for example (the substance the witch uses the newborn baby to make) are ripe with history.
Not to mention the incredibly satisfying and powerful ending, which I won’t completely spoil here. But I will say that I love it. The film puts Christianity, Patriarchy and so much more on trial.
Overall the film is incredibly well received, with over 90% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. This is the perfect time of year to watch The Witch (2015).