For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘The Witch,’ check out the video below! Or read on for our mini-review…
Just when we thought all of today’s horror movies had fallen into the predictability trap of haunted house tales and cheap thrill scare-fests with dolls and clowns, along comes ‘The Witch’ to breathe welcomed life back into the genre. It kind of makes sense that Robert Eggers, a first-time feature director with a freshly-skewed vision, is the one to bring what may soon be regarded as a modern horror masterpiece to the screen.
‘The Witch’ focuses on a 17th century puritan family that struggles to make a homestead life in the unforgiving early New England wilderness. They soon find themselves enduring dark forces from outside, as well as inside, their family in order to survive. Surprisingly, this movie doesn’t shy away from showing us those external evils…and they are disturbing. But the film makes us care about the characters by showing us the internal crises of faith that arise to destroy this devoutly faithful family from within.
In addition to its evil surprises, much of the unsettling effectiveness of ‘The Witch’ comes from its total immersion in the early 17th century puritan plantation homestead setting, which gives a heightened overall sense of isolation and dread. The authentic details of the costumes, sets, and old English language dialogue combine with slow, assured camera movements and muted color palate to turn us into helpless bystanders to the horrors that descend from the start.
The main cast supports this grim tale perfectly. While the parents of this family are portrayed by two familiar actors from ‘Game of Thrones,’ it’s the mesmerizingly believable performances of the family’s four children that truly amaze. Anya Taylor-Joy as the teen daughter, Thomasin, and Harvey Scrimshaw as her younger brother Caleb, are astoundingly good.
If your brand of horror film requires involves in-your-face jump-scares from bogeymen in the dark or endless slash and gore, ‘The Witch’ may not be the film you’re looking for. But if you want a movie experience that will unnerve and haunt you long after you’ve left theater, check this movie out.
By Jim Puliafico, Movie Bears Podcast