Debutant writer-director Robert Eggers hits the right punch at the right time with the film The Witch when the horror genre is challenging filmmakers to live up to the high expectations in terms of subject matter, narration, and elements of scare that should no way be cliché. If I have to introduce the film in just one line then it’s a story set in the mid- 17th century where the devil takes over a devout.
In this exquisitely made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic, and possession are creatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family’s frightful encounter with evil in the New England wilderness circa 1630.
Watch the ‘The Witch’ Movie Trailer
New England, 1630. Upon threat of banishment by the church, a devout English farmer leaves his colonial plantation, relocating his wife and five children to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest — within which lurks an unknown evil. Strange and unsettling things begin to happen almost immediately — animals turn spiteful, crops fail, and one child disappears as another becomes seemingly possessed by an evil spirit.
With suspicion and paranoia mounting, the god-fearing family members start accusing teenage daughter Thomasin of witchcraft, charges she adamantly denies. As circumstances grow more treacherous, each family member’s faith, loyalty, and love become tested in shocking and unforgettable ways.
Eggers’ narration also shows elements in the story that makes every family member behave in a way that further lets them believe that devil is at work to corrupt their faith. In their life full of hardship, it is bound to get away with supernatural significance.
Interestingly, The Witch has hardly any unnecessary jump-scare moments or cheap thrills that are now very much common in almost every other horror film. Although there are very few scenes that might be disturbing for some, the film is well designed to draw fear out of simple surroundings and even from the family goat, Black Phillip, or the hair, or the raven – as to suggest that evil takes many forms.
The Witch which premiered to receive great acclaim at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival — winning the Best Director Prize in the U.S. Narrative Competition — painstakingly recreates a God-fearing New England, decades before the 1692 Salem witch trials, in which religious convictions tragically turned to mass hysteria. Told through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin — in a star-making performance by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy — and supported by mesmerizing camera work and a powerful musical score, The Witch is a chilling and groundbreaking new take on the genre.
‘The Witch’ Movie – Additional Details
Writer/Director: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
Music by Mark Korven
Cinematography Jarin Blaschke
Release Date/Year: January 27, 2015 (Sundance); February 19, 2016, in the United States; and Blu-ray / DVD release – May 17, 2016