In 2015 we embarked on our first adventure into the Sundance Film Festival. With writers excited ready for action, it was unknown territory for us but soon as the festival started from day one both couldn’t stop talking about one film, The Witch (or VVitch: A New England Folktale). Our love for Robert Eggers‘ breakout film continued when it arrived in our cinemas and now it’s the time for its home release.
When it comes to travelling to new worlds, destinations we can be there in a matter of a couple of hours to a day. We can pick up a book or simply go online a strange land can become a familiar one, In The Witch we are in era strange lands are weeks or months away. Usually by boat and the only book they may have is the ‘good book’, the Bible.
When your way of life is driven by your faith, the journey into the unknown and every ‘wrong’ thing in the world would be down to the fault of deceivers, old hags and the devil himself. Any journey we do take, we never know what dangers lie ahead. This is an unsettling feeling for anyone especially a God-fearing family, isolated fear of sin. Robert Eggers feature maybe his debut but it’s one of maturity, that’s rigorous, ambitious which grips you from every angle.
The Witch takes us back to 1630 New England USA. William (Ralph Ipeson), Katherine (Kate Dickie) and their family lead a devout Puritan Christian life. One that finds them banished and excommunicated from the Puritan community for being too devout. Forced into the wilderness, relocating on the edge of a forest in New England, but it doesn’t take long for an anxious strange turn for the worse.
From crop failures to malevolent goats, the family’s infant child to disappear and eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor joy) to be accused of witchcraft. As circumstances grow more treacherous everyone’s faith, loyalty and love are tested to a level they never expected.
Robert Eggers‘ is a filmmakers whose the devil in the details and it’s no secret this film was no overnight job. Taking 4 years and he’s delivered a truly authentic, nightmarish portrayal of 17th century earth, that questions what really is the true evil of the film? Is it some devilish creature that lurks in the forest or is it simply the family’s paranoia manifesting from their devout faith to Christ?
Eggers’ is not scared to play on their fears, anxieties, even the children have songs about the goat ‘Black Phillip’. The smallest of things, words or gestures could see you accused of the devil’s work.
If you look at a horror film with creatures or legendary genre icons you will be looking in the wrong place with this film. Sometimes we forget how diverse the horror genre really is and when we do, we get fixated on a few of those things forgetting it has a lot more to offer. Whilst Salem Witch Trials, The Puritan way of life make up a big chunk of the film’s inspiration, you can also see it has several films make it marks too. From Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining, Haxan:Witchcraft, The Children Of The Corn.
The Witch is an gloriously unnerving atmospheric chiller that will play on your mind that will challenge your morals. Claustrophobic tension filled journey that will chill your blood when you enter the belly of the beast.
Paul Devine | [rating=5]
Horror, Mystery | USA, 2015 | 15 | Universal Pictures UK | 18th July 2016 (UK) | Dir.Robert Eggers | Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw | Buy:[Blu-ray]