This evening, my family and I watched the Witch. It’s described online as a historical period supernatural horror film and was written and directed by Robert Eggers in his directorial debut. It stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson.
The film follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm. Set in 17th century New England, it begins with a man named William is threatened with banishment from a Puritan plantation alongside his wife Katherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, and fraternal twins Mercy and Jonas, due to a difference in interpretation of the New Testament. Their differences in opinion leads the family to leave the church and the plantation it controls and build a farm by the edge of a large, secluded forest far from the Puritan settlement. Katherine soon gives birth to her fifth child, Samuel. While being closely watched by Thomasin, Samuel mysteriously vanishes from her presence. The family are devastated as they try to figure out what happened to Samuel and who is to blame for what happened.
The Witch grossed $25.1 million in North America and $15.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $40.4 million. It received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a “Certified Fresh” rating of 91%, based on 259 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. However, it only scored 6.7 amongst ~80000 views on IMDb.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m still not quite sure how to digest this movie. In terms of setting the scene, the authenticity and the acting, I can’t really criticise the movie too much. Specifically, huge shout outs are deserved for Ralph Ineson (William) and Harvey Scrimshaw (Caleb) who gave excellent performances. Yet, although the film was marketed was as a “terrifying horror movie”, I don’t quite think it was quite deserved of such titles. Yes, the movie did get under my skin and there were scenes that truly made me feel uncomfortable, it wasn’t uncomfortable in a terrified sort of way. It was more along the lines of disgust or distaste. There were definite scenes that I would genuinely upset some members of the audience and I don’t understand quite why these scenes are necessary in the film. Directors should realise that this sort of scenary, while they might argue it to be visceral, is just distasteful and not entertaining. If people were entertained by this, they need some sort of therapy in my opinion. Something’s are better left unseen.
As I said before, the acting was very competent and credit should be given to the actors for dealing with a more complicated than average script which did add to the authentic feel of the movie. I did not like the ending but that is something I’m more often than not used to in this day and age. Overall I would say that this film was rather a take or leave it film. It wasn’t anything particularly special but something rather left of the field that doesn’t quite hit the spot.