The Witch

New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood.

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  • ★★★★★ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd

    Let's get this out of the way, The Witch is a horror film, you can put it in all of your other subcategories but, at its very core--it's a genre film whether you feel comfortable with the classification or not.

    This film covers the horrors of colonialism, emigration, religious conviction, starvation, witch trials, patriarchy, puberty, loss, and if methodically exposing each of these very horrifying real life tribulations isn't terrifying and alarming enough, there's a god damn witch and evil goat for good measure.

    [I'm not trying to be sardonic, but many others have written think-pieces on why a general audience refuses to label a good film horror, google it and you'll find a bunch of people who were actually paid to explore this common misconception.]

    The Witch slowly builds to a chaotic conclusion, morbidly grooming Thomasin's family to turn against her, to leave her desperate and broken by the end, vulnerable to influence, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I loved everything about this movie, from the period-appropriate dialogue to brilliant performances from the entire cast (including the children who so often hinder a film and real life). The stunning cinematography, locations, and gloomy atmosphere were more than enough to hook me into this New England folkmare and I would love for Robert Eggers to tell me bedtime stories any night of the week. I am excited to watch this film again, I am excited for whatever Eggers decides to do next and I am so glad a film was finally able to capture a day in my witchy, deep forest hag life.

  • ★★★★★ review by Evan on Letterboxd

    And here I thought It Follows was the new standard for modern horror films.

    I couldn't tell you the last horror film I watched that genuinely made me afraid to go to sleep that night. Seriously, I got home from the movie and I had to change my shirt because it was drenched in sweat.

    Quite possibly the most atmospheric horror film I've ever experienced.

    The Witch has everything you could possibly want in a horror film. First and foremost it's scary as hell. It's also full of tension and suspense. The slow burn nature of the film really gets to you. The score is amazing. Aside from being scary, the second most import thing for me when it comes to a horror film is the score. Sometimes the score alone can make or break a horror film. In The Witches case the score makes the film. And finally, the acting is top-notch. Anya Taylor-Joy was incredible as the lead. Even the young children were fantastic.

    Robert Eggers is a first time filmmaker and he has made a masterpiece. What a time to be alive!

    This film is nothing short of brilliant. I'll never look at a goat the same way again.

  • ★★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd

    The rare horror movie with such savage grace and conviction that it was endorsed by both the Sundance Film Festival and the Satanic Temple (whose spokeswoman impishly described it as the story of “an outsider who grabs persecution by the horns”), The Witch is one of the best tricks the devil has ever pulled. Billed as a “New England folktale” and grimmer than Grimm, Robert Eggers’ uncompromising directorial debut is a bracingly new experience that boils with the primordial fever of America’s original sins.

    READ THE FULL REVIEW ON SLATE

  • ★★★½ review by Todd Gaines on Letterboxd

    I admire Robert Eggers' The VVitch more than I like it. Eggers has written and directed an ambitious horror movie that looks amazing on the screen. You can't deny Eggers put his heart and soul, filming and writing, The VVitch

    The cinematography with the old school vibe deserves the highest praise I can give. The 1:66:1 aspect ratio crafted by Jarin Blaschke, to me, is the overall highlight of the movie. I love the opening shot, as the family is being exiled. The look of the lens is perfect. It sets up the feeling of doom throughout the film.

    The language used seemed Puritan to me. I like how Eggers explores the temptations of people who try to live "pure" lives. A couple of the scenes involving the brother and sister are great examples. The daily lives of all involved, speak to the Puritan way of life. I would've hated to be a Puritan. 

    The music is dreadful in the best kind of way.  Mark Korven knows his mood music. I also noticed a couple instances where silence did the trick over sound. The VVitch is one of the best sounding movies of the year.

    Black Phillip is the GOAT! Of course I love Black Phillip. I like the way he looks, dances, talks, the songs the kids sing about him and his billy goat eyes. I want a sequel with Black Phillip going out into to the woods to look for some fresh green grass to eat. 

    The actors are good. The little kids are funny. Anya Taylor-Joy is the glue. She holds the cast together. I laughed way more than I should've. I found a lot of scenes unintentionally hilarious. The beginning dragged for me. The middle had a bit of lag, too. It was hard for me to get fully engrossed with the picture. But, this is a super grim, Grimms' Fairy Tale-esque story. However, I'm more Don't Breathe and The Wailing over The VVitch. Please don't tell Black Phillip!

    Bahhhh!

  • ★★★★★ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd

    A soul-shaking, blood-curdling, skin-crawling, bone-chilling & nerve-wracking exercise in persistently looming dread, paranoia-inducing terror & never-ending nightmare, The Witch (stylized as The VVitch) is one of the best films I have ever seen. Crafted with immaculate precision, told with remarkable composure, and showcasing extraordinary level of craftsmanship in each n every aspect, this diabolical folktale is an unnatural, uncanny & unsettling work of horror that’s destined to rank amongst the greatest works of 21st century cinema in the years to come.

    Set in 17th century, the story of The Witch (also known as The Witch: A New-England Folktale) concerns a family of devout Christians who are banished from their Puritan plantation due to differences between their religion principles. Homesteading on the edge of a secluded wilderness, they build a sustainable life for themselves but when the family’s youngest mysteriously vanishes from the premises and their crops fail, the unit starts to crumble and begins turning on one another, which ultimately leaves them vulnerable to an evil that tears them apart.

    Written & directed by Robert Eggers in what’s actually his directional debut, The Witch is an exceptional start to his filmmaking career and is undoubtedly one of the strongest debuts in recent memory. Eggers’ direction exudes both passion & perseverance plus every segment that ends up in the final print exhibits a level of confidence & restraint that one expects from an auteur. Devoid of jump scares, cheap thrills & all the usual tropes most horror films of today typically rely on to deliver the chills, this film defies genre conventions throughout its runtime to shape itself up as something that feels as unique as it is unearthly.

    Eggers’ writing is top-notch as well, for the screenplay in itself is a product of painstaking research that was carried out to bring this historical period piece to life with as much authenticity as possible. Even the wordings in the script are based on the writings from the time which not only assists in illustrating the iconography of 17th century New England but also its way of life. The story isn’t short on folklore concerning witches, witchcraft & black magic either, and even incorporates some of that Enochian tongue into the narrative. And also lending credibility to its plot are its set of believable characters whose finely scripted arcs result in another full score for Eggers.

    Production design team successfully creates a sinister environment that reeks of evil, and the peripherals of the isolated surroundings only add more eeriness to the whole setting. Cinematography is another highlight, relying on natural light to imbue a sense of realism, while the very earthy tones, cold colour palette & controlled manoeuvring of the camera inculcate an aura of foreboding that only magnifies as the plot progresses. Editing is methodically carried out, and every bit of its 93 minutes runtime plays a relevant role in the final outcome. And last but not the least, Mark Korven’s terrifying soundtrack further ups the ante by amplifying its nightmarish element, thus catapulting the viewing experience to another level.

    While the film works as a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own sins, The Witch is mainly Thomasin’s story, for she is targeted from the very beginning. Continuously forced to feel guilty for Samuel’s disappearance and unreasonably reprimanded for others’ wrongdoings, all these false accusations keep tormenting & breaking her will little by little and eventually leave her in a completely shattered, hopeless & desperate state, a perfect condition for evil to seduce its prey. And the sincerity with which Anya Taylor-Joy renders her on screen and exhibits her increasing vulnerability is the sole reason why she is an absolute revelation in the given role. It is, by every means, an outstanding input from the young actress.

    The rest of the cast, consisting of Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw & others, chip in with excellent contributions in their respective roles. Ineson & Dickie are in as Thomasin’s parents and while the former delivers a measured performance, the latter’s input only gets more unhinged with time. Scrimshaw plays Thomasin’s brother and is committed to his role. Children mostly come off as annoying in horror movies but the twins present in this tale, Mercy & Jonas, are legitimately creepy. The titular character keeps surfacing from time to time, plus her introductory scene is so disturbing that its very image may continue haunting the viewers long after the credits have rolled. But the real show-stealer is Black Phillip, and you have to see it for yourself to know why.

    On an overall scale, The Witch is a deeply unnerving, extremely disquieting & powerfully affecting cinema that feels like it was crafted by the Devil himself. An absolute masterwork of genre filmmaking that’s as polished in storytelling department as it is accomplished on technical scale, this ill-omened folktale of a family that gets torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic & possession features none of the clichés & conventions that are so prevalent in contemporary horror and it's one reason why it may not appease everyone. Instead, it is one of those rare new arrivals that feel so fresh, original & pathbreaking that it makes other recent entries look like the work of amateurs. The best movie of the year, one of the finest films of the decade, and one of the genuinely great works of horror in recent memory, The Witch is an impeccable feat from a debutant filmmaker that expands the horizons of horror cinema by pushing it into uncharted realms. One hundred percent recommended. Multiple viewings advised.

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