Robert Eggers’ directorial debut The Witch is a stunningly dark and disturbing film seeping with dread, chaos, and family tragedy. The world feels surprisingly real, and will haunt viewers long after the credits roll.
A Puritan family lives a simple and peaceful life on an extremely remote farm in New England. The area has been said, however, to inhabit an ancient witch that hunts and kills people at random. The family must do whatever it takes to survive in their homeland and protect themselves from the looming danger that is closer than they know.
After seeing The Witch I honestly cannot wait to see what Eggers does next, as this film is one of my favorite horror films this entire decade. The color palette in The Witch is that of dull and grey colors to portray a bleak vibe that the film obviously benefits from. Had this film been full of lush colors, it would have felt like a completely different experience. Eggers’ choice to use extremely dull colors paid off immensely.
The world in this picture feels remarkably real as well. During the course of the film, it felt like this family could have actually existed in New England hundreds of years ago. Nothing about the family or what they do seems remotely fictional.
Speaking of the family, you really do care for them in The Witch. They are struggling to do the best they can with the environment and resources that they have, and the parents have to do whatever it takes to protect their children. When things start to go bump in the night, you really do want the family to make it out alive.
Even though all the acting in the film is amazing, easily the best actor in the film is Anya Taylor-Joy, who portrays Thomasin, one of the children in the family. Everything I have seen Taylor-Joy do in film so far has been brilliant, and whatever future role she lands, she will nail it for sure. Her character Thomasin, was by far the most intriguing character as well. Eggers takes her character on quite the journey in The Witch and one that left me shocked by the end credits. Eggers is a filmmaker who clearly wants the audience to pay close attention to his scenes in order to get a full understanding on what The Witch actually means in the long run. This is one of those bizarre films that will spawn many theories on the internet, which is fascinating.
This picture also contains some of the best cinematography I have seen in a horror film in years, shot by Jarin Blaschke. So many of the scenes shot by Blaschke were so beautifully done. Whether its the way Blaschke makes the trees appear gigantic or houses appear distant, he is extremely talented. Here’s hoping he gets more cinematography roles down the road.
If audiences go into The Witch thinking it will be a typical monster film however, they will be drastically disappointed. Nothing about The Witch comes across as a jump scare heavy horror film which is great. It is all a slow-burning build which eventually leads to some genuinely chilling moments that I never saw coming.
It is also paced extremely well. Never once did I feel like the film was dragging, or moving along too quickly – it all feels fluid and perfectly paced. Also, each scene that passes by adds further fuel to the fire, and always adds new things and elements to scare the viewer and the family in the film.
Mark Korven’s score is also euphoric and is an extremely great addition to the film’s already existing feeling of hopelessness and dread.
The Witch is a beautifully twisted horror picture with a haunting story, masterful cinematography, and an excellent performance by Anya Taylor-Joy.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Distributed by: A24
Running Time: 93 minutes