Movie Review – The Witch
Horror and history meet in a nightmare.
The Witch is a new film which will delight fans of horror stories and history alike. The writer and director of the film, newcomer Robert Eggers, won best director for this movie at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and the award was well deserved.
Due to a heavy writing schedule, I don’t get out to the movies very often but when I first saw the trailer for this film back in August, I knew I wanted to see it. It opened in theaters this weekend and I saw it last night.
This is not a typical horror movie but it’s not for the faint of heart and certainly not appropriate for children. However, fans of history will delight in the attention to period details.
The setting, lighting, and costumes are perfectly Puritan. The dialogue is so authentic the film could have used subtitles in modern English at points. Even the parts of the story that deal with the witch (and there is a witch) are steeped in New England folklore.
The film follows the story of a family which is banished from a New England settlement in 1630 because the father is too pious for the Puritans.
The family moves away and builds a small house and farm on the edge of a dark forest.
Things deteriorate quickly.
The family’s baby boy Samuel, disappears while being watched by eldest daughter Thomasin. Crops fail, the mother begins to lose her faith in God and the toddler twins Mercy and Jonas develop an unhealthy relationship with the family goat “Black Phillip.” The eldest son Caleb has an encounter with a mysterious woman in the woods and returns with a life threatening fever.
Accusations of witchcraft against Thomasin and paranoia follow as the family completely breaks down. Rather than jump scares or special effects, the horror unfolds in your mind along with the plight of the characters.
The largely unknown cast is outstanding, particularly Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin and Ralph Ineson as the father, William. Kate Dickie, who plays the mother Katherine is also strong and the kids who play the twins are the creepiest sibling duo since The Shining.
I will not spoil the ending for you and neither should you. If you see this movie, you’re better off going in knowing little about it. I will tell you however, that the final twenty minutes of the film is not what you’ll expect and you may want to go to church after leaving the theater.
This is not a movie for everyone, but if you’re a fan of New England history, period films, the Salem Witch Trials or scary stories, you’ll probably enjoy The Witch.
The movie is Rated R for nudity and violent content. You can watch the original trailer below.
Featured image via YouTube.
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I had to stop part way through the trailer! Yikes.
I love good horror films, and liked the trailer. But I’m wary about spending money + 2 hours seeing “The Witch” after reading this gag-worthy Newsweek interview of the director and lead actress, in which Eggers (the director) says the one thing he hopes audiences will take away from the film is, “[W]e’re talking about feminism. [T]hat’s just exploding out of the pages of history. And you can’t divorce the witch from feminism.” See http://www.newsweek.com/interview-robert-eggers-anya-taylor-joy-witch-movie-428681
Because nothing takes the fun out of and poisons EVERYTHING faster than feminism.
That was a time when women were supposed to keep quiet and obediently follow the direction of men, and when women generally couldn’t do much with their individual talents. Maybe you’d like to go back to such times.
Since the witchcraft phenomenon involved mostly women, it isn’t farfetched to see it as, in part, a way for women to try to exercise some kind of control over their own lives and circumstances.
And it’s connected with the “evil ugly old hag” concept: Women who were rejected by men for reasons not under their control, or were widowed and relatively powerless, might become socially marginal and regarded as having little human value; and society gave them little room to create their own value.
If they were ridiculed as intrinsically worthless and they couldn’t do anything about it by the prevailing social value system, and couldn’t even support themselves in dignity, it’s no wonder that some of them might try to get even with their taunters by exercising what power they could — thus feeding back into the “evil hag” stigma.
(I’m sure this will get me tagged as a feminazi by people who don’t know much about history.)
We have modern day witches and one is riding her broomstick towards prison.
SPOILER ALERT: In the last 20 minutes we see the witch take the oath of office and initiate single payer by executive order.
I don’t have time to respond fully to your post, so I’ll be necessarily brief.
I know a fair amount about history from studying it at the college and grad school levels, and continuing to read history since childhood. I also know a fair amount about second-wave feminism. This latter knowledge comes to me indirectly from reading books about it, and directly from being forced to endure endless “consciousness raising”, man-hating, family-hating and capitalism-hating screaming marathons in the late ’60s and ’70s, courtesy of young women from privileged backgrounds who had recently undergone feminist “conversions” and extreme personality changes.
From my point of view, you seem to uncritically accept the feminist positions that women and men are interchangeable in nearly every way; that the different roles that men and women have historically been expected to fill never had any rational basis and never provide “bartered” benefits to both parties; that women who fulfilled their expected roles had no power (which is an absurd proposition — their power was different from men’s in form, but power nonetheless); and that women who are “driven” to extreme anti-social and destructive acts (or as you put it, who “try to get even with their taunters”) are understandable and justified in acting out, instead of mentally ill and/or evil.
You also seem to uncritically accept the idea that second-wave feminism and third-wave feminism are about gaining women equal opportunity, individual economic and career freedom, and freedom from violence, when in fact feminism hasn’t been about those things for over 60 years. Modern feminism is instead profoundly anti-family, anti-heterosexuality, conformist, controlling, intolerant, authoritarian to the point of being pro-fascist, male-hating, family-hating, Christian-hating and capitalism-hating. I know these things because I study them, observe them in “real time”, and think about them a fair amount.
So when a horror film comes out that appears to bash men, family and Christianity and openly proclaims itself “all about feminism”; and when I suggest that such a film might be gag-worthy feminist propaganda; and when you suggest that *I* might not “know much about history”, I find that highly ironic. Because, to the contrary, I think you may be the one one who doesn’t know much about history or modern feminism.
At least I didn’t call you a “feminazi”. (Nor would I, as you don’t come across that way. Uncritically accepting of feminazis, perhaps, but not one yourself.)
I am eagerly awaiting the two sequels: “Abortion Rites” starring Kermit “clump of cells” Gosner, and “Cannibalistic Trials” featuring Planned Parenthood and starring #CecileTheCannibal. Both are set in liberal societies with State-established pro-choice cults, and are quintessential exhibits for diverse states of progressive dysfunction.
An academic analysis of Witch Hunts.
From the fifteenth to the eighteenth the centuries, many Europeans developed a heightened concern with the phenomenon of witchcraft, seeing a new sect hostile to humanity. Thus, governments and society organized “hunts” for these alleged witches: accusing, torturing, and executing thousands of people. The intensity and viciousness of these hunts varied from place to place, as did their focus on particular targets, such as women. Finally, a changed world-view, informed by the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment,brought an end to these hunts for threats that did not empirically exist.
Cool trailer! Suspenseful, doesn’t give away the boogie(wo)man’s image. Setting looks well done. Probably will have to wait for pay-per-view as we don’t get to the theater much in these busy times.
I found it to be a piece of trash, part feminist agitprop, part anti-Christian camp. It excels at creating mood, but the payoff is not only absurd, it includes one of the worst cliches from most movies about Satanic cults ever made, and that would be the requisite naked girls dancing around a fire hailing Satan. You can find better nudity online, and unlike this film doesn’t include any seduction via Billy goat.
The makers of the film are saying this: pious Christians with nuclear families are goofy, will bring plagues upon themselves, and witches who eviscerate infants are hella-cool. The Satanic Temple endorsed this film on Twitter, and the movie’s PR team has gleefully played this up.
Your mileage may vary, of course.
Thank you for your public service, cbk — i.e., for watching “The Witch” and warning others, so we don’t have to!
I had somewhat suspected the film was nihilistic, anti-family, anti-Christian and radically feminist just based on the trailer and gag-worthy Newsweek interview I mentioned in a prior post. But now your review solidly confirms that suspicion, and further suggests the film puts Satanism in a positive light to boot.
No thanks, Robert Eggers, Anya Taylor-Joy and Sundance Film Festival! I’ve got better ways to spend 2 hours + $20.
It looks entertaining. I’m going to watch it.
Before everyone gives up on this movie, take a look at this review on a conservative site:
Beware, spoilers abound (you find out exactly what happens in the movie and how it ends). A major spoilers is also implied by my following comment, so be warned.
Is “The Witch” a reply to “The Crucible,” and does it warn us that sometimes when there is fear and paranoia, there is also a witch, a Communist, or Muslim terrorists causing it? I’m reminded of a quote (and don’t remember where I read or heard it many years ago), “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t after you.”
You make some good points, and hanks for the spoiler alert (I won’t take click the link). Also, I don’t understand some of the “conservative” criticism shown on this thread. This movie may come from a point of view that isn’t mine (don’t they all?), but that’s no reason I shouldn’t watch it, and is the proper conservative viewpoint of today really about defending the Salem witch trials?
So there’s underlying political themes in a horror movie? I can deal with it in horror as long as the entertainment factor is high. Most people are not going to the horror show for the cultural connotations. You could say if only the little girl in The Exorcist had a daddy around the demon wouldn’t never have claimed her. Yeah, that’s a big stretch but whatever.
It’s the more ‘serious’ movies that applaud the disintegration of the family and white man hatred that I’d have a problem with.
Like Batman or something.
Just kidding. Love Batman. OT, I heard Bats vs. Supes has the Dark Knight against The All Being because he’s some kind of socialist nightmare.