Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
Movie: The Witch (2015)
Plot: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession.
The Witch is a period drama first and a horror movie second. This doesn’t take anything away from the film – if anything, it’s what makes it such a intriguing and thought-provoking piece of cinema. But for those who prefer their horror less cerebral and more visceral, it’s not going to appeal to them. I for one enjoy both elements, thusly (as the folks of that era would say), I’m a huge fan of this film.
First time writer/director Robert Eggers burst on to the horror scene with his New England tale of a family that’s forced to live on the outskirts of their society after being banished for supposed wrongs done by their patriarch. Deeply religious, they start to build their new home and carve out a life for themselves but then tragedy strikes. It’s only the beginning of their suffering, as the terrors outside start taking hold within.
With painstaking attention paid to every detail showed to us on screen (the buildings and clothes were all made using the techniques that would’ve existed in that timeline) Eggers forces us to become completely immersed in this world he created. Even the (somewhat difficult) language used is authentic to the period. All of this adds to the atmosphere of isolation and desperation that permeates this story.
At the beginning, it’s hard to tell exactly who the focus of this tragic tale is. We have the grieving but loyal wife and mother Katherine (Kate Dickie), the head of the household William (Ralph Ineson), their young son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), the most annoying twins ever, Jonas and Mercy (Lucas Dawson and Ellie Grainger), infant Samuel, and last but certainly not least, Thomasin (Anna Taylor Joy of Split and The New Mutants). As the story progresses we see focus shift to her, and we begin to understand at its core The Witch is a tale of feminism and the hypocrisy some people tend to hide behind their beliefs.
I would even draw comparisons to David Fincher’s Se7en and its themes of sin. The father William is prideful, as he forces his family into a situation of his own making. The son Caleb battles with his lust, and as he grows into a young man, and due to their isolated existence, he finds himself stealing glances at his older sister. Mother Katherine is envious of her daughter’s youth and beauty and the twins…well, the twins are just annoying, but you see my point. There’s a lot to be found in this dark and beautiful film and for those who don’t think it’s horrific enough, well, I dare you to watch the scene of Katherine breastfeeding without flinching or turning away.
It is a wonderfully-crafted horror movie that draws you into its world without you even realising how far down the rabbit hole you’ve gone. Like Thomasin in the final scene, The Witch easily rises to the top as a horror movie for the ages.
Sommer’s Score: 9 out 10
So what did you think of The Witch? For part 21 of the 31 Days of Horror and my review of vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night you can click here. And for more than 100 horror movie reviews and lists you can check out the RMR horror section here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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