Quick Hit: A slow, atmospheric horror film which paints a picture of Puritanical beliefs and lifestyle to devastating effect.
I went and saw The Witch on a Monday afternoon. The theater was small, and I could hear Star Wars playing in the theater next to me. However, after the extended amount of previews (20 minutes of them), the Witch finally started.
Once the movie started, it was incredible how quickly you become immersed in the Puritanical world. The language is spot on for the period (a point I will bring up again later), and the way that the movie is shot is bleak and dreary. They use a slow, steady camera shot that lingers upon the face of the actors, and at times it is enough to make you uncomfortable. You truly feel as if you are a part of this world.
of glass, something that in England was taken for granted, but is now so rare there is none. Katie Dickie, in the role of the mother Katherine, is exactly the edge-of-the-knife crazy that we came to expect from Lysa Arryn from Game of Thrones (You can expect just as much inappropriate breast-feeding as that role). However, for me, the clear winner is Ralph Ineson in the role of William. A father that has brought his family to the wilderness, he portrays many different qualities throughout the film. You can tell that he believes everything he states to his family, even when he grabs his children by the neck and threaten them. He is so rough and wild at times, you get more nervous as he swings the axe harder and harder.
Critics of the film will take the lack of major events or jump scares in the movie and say that it is boring. And, at times, this may be true. I can’t help but wonder what types of things were left on the cutting floor of this independent gem. Things that may have fleshed out some of the characters (I’m looking at you, creepy little twins) more just may not have been important enough to the distributer to make a final cut of the film. They may also state that the film isn’t a true horror film. I’d counter that by stating, purely based on the amount of moments where you feel uncomfortable or unsure, you could classify it as horror. It’s a lot like another recent Independent horror film It Follows, in the way that it feels like a throwback to a time when horror wasn’t about bloody slashing, or jump scares. It was about the way a movie was presented to you, and how it was received by the audience.
Despite all its merits, The Witch does have its problems. As previously mentioned, the depth of Puritanical society into which you are dropped can be a bit confusing at first. It took me several minutes to catch up to the language of the film to the point where I consistently understood them (and when they talked quickly or quietly, I lost the dialogue thread once more). The music (which on a tangent, is very Carpenter-like) can be overwhelming to the point that it hurts your ears. And the movie is a bit slow on the whole side.
However, I like The Witch overall. The overall tone of the film is bleak and sad, and there are moments that make you incredibly uneasy (um, hello, baby scene!!!!). I’m gonna give the movie a B+.
Check out IMDB for more information on this movie.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"