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The Witch User Review

  • lucasisking
    Bewitching drama
    Review of The Witch movie by lucasisking, Sep 30, 2016.
    A horror film from a similar stable as The Wicker Man (and, to use a lesser example, the underrated Black Death), in the sense that it's more an examination of the religious mindset than a traditional scare-fest. It revolves around a puritan family in 17th Century New England struggling to make a living having been banished from their settlement; yet facing levels of adversity that they struggle to reconcile with their ultra-piety. Also, there may be a Witch lurking in the woods...

    There's no jump scares here, little gore, and the supernatural aspect is very much open to interpretation. What we have instead is a chilling period piece that slowly builds tension as we watch a vulnerable family tear themselves apart through grief, paranoia and superstition. It's a psychological horror through and through, and for me that's often the best kind. Ralph Ineson (yep, Finchy from The Office) and Kate Dickey (Game of Thrones) are very solid in their roles; the child performances are variable although the actor playing Caleb gets a great scene; but Anna Taylor-Joy (Morgan) is superb and perfectly cast as Thomasin; the character with the most powerful arc. I can see a bright future for her in particular.

    Director Robert Eggers has done a great job on his first film, with superb attention to period detail, not least the authentic old-English script, and creating atmosphere. The colour palette is appropriately drab and grey, and the aspect ratio heightened for its woodland setting.
    A word too about Mark Korven's score, which is horribly unsettling and reminiscent (in a good way) of 2001.

    The ending, while potentially polarising, is excellent and the film overall, as mentioned, is wide open to tantalising interpretation. Highly recommended.

    Pros

    • Deeply unsettling study of religious psychology and fear of the occult
    • Superb period detail
    • Exquisite script
    • Excellent performances
    • Atmospheric score
    • Impressive directorial debut from Robert Eggers

    Cons

    • More a period drama than a traditional horror; this may turn off some viewers
    • Not overtly frightening

    Verdict

    9
    No comments have been posted on this review yet.
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