A Puritan family is banished from their plantation and must find a new place to live. When they do mysterious things start to happen to them.
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Katie Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity
Fun Fact: Stephen King has stated that he was terrified of this film.
The Witch is a period piece that is based off of the witch hunt hysteria in the 1600’s. Director Robert Eggers has stated for his research that he looked through eye witness accounts and old court documents to gain an understanding of the material. Eggers took on the project writing the screenplay and becoming the film’s director.
Eggers brings us a genuine atmospheric horror film. Instead of relying on jump scares, he relies on the surroundings and the things that you don’t see to drive his point. When these horrible acts are happening to the family, you want to see who’s doing it to them because that’s your first instinct. Instead you hear about them and see the aftermath of what happens to the characters. There is something genuinely creepy about Black Philip. Just his presence makes me shiver like he is all a part of this. I’m not going to spoil anything but, Eggers knew what he was doing working with his surroundings.
A thing that was interesting was that The Witch was filmed with the natural light. No other lighting was used on the sets. That makes the film more authentic in a way. It feels like your in the scene with the characters. For example the scene where the characters are sitting at the dinner table in the candle light. You get more of an eerie feeling with just the candlelight then you would with set lighting. To capture these moments the cinematography is top notch. We get great uses of wide shots, close ups, and everything in between. Those technical details bring the horror to life.
The acting between Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Ineson is fantastic. The way they deliver their lines are spot on. Taylor-Joy plays the oldest daughter who seems to be the one that is getting caught up on everything that is going on. Ineson on the other hand is the father who has some serious secrets that he hides from his family. In the script, it was written with how language was spoken at that time which make the characters and film have a more authentic feel. That also brings the best out of the actors as they all deliver those lines flawlessly. Everyone does a great job at what they do.
Overall, The Witch is a fantastic horror film. It doesn’t rely on the jump scares but, the surroundings. Atmospheric horror films have been quiet for some time now and I believe that this film is the step in the right direction to bringing them back. Robert Eggers had the right vision and with his solid direction we get fantastic performances, a well written script, and great creative decisions to make one of the best horror films that I have seen in a long time.