With the typical horror movie plots and scenarios expected from Hollywood, it is refreshing to see something different, even if it is not what many would expect.
The Witch has been getting buzz since its screening at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, especially with Robert Eggers winning Best Director for a Newcomer. On Feb 19 the much talked-about horror movie got its wider release.
William, a farmer in 1630 New England, and his family have to live their lives out in the middle of nowhere. It’s no surprise a witch from the nearby forest causes mischief and fear amongst the family. This is a time where people believed in black magic, witches and other related folklore. If you remember reading The Crucible back in high school or watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the (hilarious) witch scene it had, then you know what kind of people you’ll be watching for two hours and 33 minutes. And to top it off, the cast is only a family of five, so expect some tension to blossom.
With little comparison, The Witch is a mix of The Crucible, all the witch tales you may or may not be familiar with and The Shining with its cringing tension, and slow build-up. Not only is this not your typical horror movie, with the jump scares and so forth, but more importantly it is an indie movie. So aside from being weird (and it does get weird), the latest horror movie may either entertain or disappoint viewers.
For the entire movie the viewer sees the life of this family and all the banter and ruckus they create. With a gloomy and grey tone set from the beginning, you might have a good idea as to what you are getting yourself into. But thanks to a realistic setting and period-piece dialogue, it really feels as if we had been transported to the time and place. An honorable mention goes to how well the cast really brings a 16th-century family to life. Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw as siblings Thomasin and Caleb were the scene-stealers and the two relatable characters.
The biggest draw is the film’s increasing intelligence compared to other horror flicks of lately. With the mythology the story centers around, the film will definitely leave several questions as to what certain (disturbing) scenes are supposed to represent. And even though the movie is short on scares, there are still a handful of moments sure to leave stomachs turned upside-down.
But it may also be no surprise if the average moviegoer walks out of this one feeling a bit disappointed. Audiences have been accustomed to the pointless amount of forgettable entries in the horror genre, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the February movie end up a sleeper hit. The Witch is an experience—whether it is a good or bad one is up to the viewer. As more will appreciate its creativity, others may choose to think less of it.