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The Witch

The Witch: Patience is the Key to Enjoying Smart, Sinister Horror

  • Anya Taylor-JoyKate Dickie...
  • Horror
  • Robert Eggers
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Witch: Patience is the Key to Enjoying Smart, Sinister Horror

In a world dominated by found-footage horror films, Robert Eggers’ quietly unnerving directorial debut arrives as a breath of fresh air. Embracing a slow-burning pace, The Witch is a satisfyingly dark and exceptionally unsettling fable which, although not playing to everyone’s taste, has the characteristics to shake and rattle you to your very core if you have the patience for it.  

The story takes place in 1630 New England where a family of seven, have been banished from their Puritan community, due to a religious dispute and forced to set up their own farm on the outskirts of a threateningly menacing forest.  

With very little experience of farming their own land, the family does their best to survive. However, grief and confusion soon rains down on the God-fearing family, when their youngest child mysteriously disappears. With their crops failing and more disturbing events occurring, a deep onset of paranoia and fear soon begins to spread, forcing the family to question their sanity.

Intentionally calculated and slow-moving, The Witch is all about the mood. Evoking dreariness and unnerving disposition, everything from the eerie musical score to the hollow emptiness – and greyness – of the film’s backdrop, is an equally contributing factor to the film overall unsettling aesthetic.  As a New England Folktale, much of the dialogue is spoken entirely in the antiquated English – a unique trademark which might not sit all that well with some moviegoers – while the costumes and the burdening set-designs are perfectly fitting for the time period it tries to depict.

While it may be a supernatural-chiller at its core, The Witch is also a highly twisted coming-of-age story which focuses on Thomasin – played by the wonderfully engaging Taylor-Joy who pretty much steals the show – and her difficult journey into womanhood. Game of Throne’s Katie Dickie gives another brilliantly deranged performance of a grieving mother while Ineson bestows his character with an equal amount of sympathy and pride.

Using natural light to emphasise the continuous threat of something unidentifiably evil, the film uses the power of suggestion to deliver its chills. Disturbing, but not necessarily in-your-face scary, there is a lot to appreciate about The Witch – you just have to give it a chance.

Like This? Try

It Follows (2014), The Shining (1980), Children of the Corn (1984)

360 Tip

The one and only Stephen King has said that he was "terrified" by The Witch - praise from Caeser, indeed.

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