Showcasing chilling atmospheric horror build-up & high-realism suspense with equally as-unsettling visuals, period authenticity, & crescendoing scoring, The Witch is old-world colonial darkness – as never-before realized in cinema. 9.4/10.
1630, New England: a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie), and their four children are grief-stricken when their youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. They oldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), who was supposed to be watching him at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Pros: Good opening writhed in period authenticity to one of the most fascinating and true horror times in our nation’s history: Salem, MA and the colonial witch hunts – as well as the isolation anonymity and supernatural intrigue of newfound forests and what might be lurking in unexplored wilderness – there’s a reason so much of the foundations of halloween and horror is in witchcraft and colonial times such a hallmark tried but failed to bring good films or shows like American Horror Story, etc. – we must understand what happened in our history and have an urge to solve unsolved mysteries especially when they have real-life bases, phenomenal jarring score that makes you feel the uncomfortableness and unsettling tone/aura-building of what’s about to transpire on screen and the film’s points/visuals to match, extreme realism in the horror – this is a not a 9-foot slasher man able to withstand 70 bullets and still go after babysitters – this really feels like it could’ve happened in our nation’s history especially placed within when real unexplainable events happened in our nation’s history in that area, probably the most authentic feeling horror movie and period piece to colonial times in horror like we’re seeing some things we shouldn’t be seeing – and I love it for that, religious battle and iconography/horror that will make even the biggest religious skeptic feel shaky iff there’s something to be seen here – like the best subject films make you do like Exo, incredible cinematography filled with chilling dark filter and forest shots and textbook, great religious and temptation battles to bring the idea of witchcraft back into its historical routes of religious darkness than hocus pocus-like costumes and broomsticks and fantastical magic, disturbing imagery and vignette-like almost anthology horror tv series like episodes like the endsing of the witch seducing caleb in the forest cottage – absolutely CHILLING and top-notch witch horror, brilliant decision to center the horror on a small scale like a family disappearing or happenings to one by one (attacking the youngest and most innocent ages and easiest targets for pure shock value you can get before escalating to large sclae in the ending, strong writing and characterization developing the characters and displaying the increasinlgy-visible and spreading cracks in the holiness they claimed as these events are unfolding, horrific events that beget a family supposedly-holy and pentinent, extreme darkness in tone and unsettling feel watching like you truly are watching something unholy you shouldn’t be able to see, how it pulls the family apart and equal interest in the human side as the witchcraft in the script how the humanity falls apart and is subject ot manipulation by dark forces like the witch, strong acting especially by intriguing main character Thomasin and father who even gets to shakes how into the role and period he gets in his portrayal, extremely twisted like having dead children come back as visions being used for agendas and animal horror, still some jump type of scares like the witch eating the goat in the barn and black philip’s surprise ramming, dark and undeniably chilling and breathtaking ending with black philip and the classic powerful witches fire surrounding and floating ending in the forest – arguably this film does to the forest akin to what jaws did to the ocean – ruining it for you and bringing horror to it as few if any films have done before it, eggers’ painstaking attention to detail and period authenticity in every detail and ambition as one of the most ambitious films of the century finally doing colonial witchcraft right – while contrastingly all taking place on a family farm in the scope of the fall of one family taken off one-by-one, paranoia distnictively unmistakeable colonial language and indictment of early religious fervor pointing out hypocrisy of concept and although not about a singular witch personifying and physicalizing evil as more than a concept but living breathing thing while still having plenty of nods to witchcraft and even the conversion of a puritan girl to one by film’s end
Cons: Modern horror fans trained to “need” gimmicks like jump scares and fake-out slashers 7 films into the series even though that’s not what horror is – I cannot for the life of me understand why some audiences don’t like it except that it’s too high-art/class/taste for them or if the film was just made in the wrong time as if it was made in the golden age of horror it would’ve fit right in with its escalation of suspense and build-up of terror much akin to many atmospheric horror films of the hay-day of the genre from alien to the shining, etc. – slightly uneventful in the middle act as my only problem with the film but that’s hardly a reason to overlook all the incredible the film accomplishes
Official CLC Score: 9.4/10