The Witch

"Excellent"

The Witch Review


To make one of the most inventive and unnerving horror films in recent memory, writer-director Robert Eggers conducted extensive research into folktales from the witch-hunt era of 17th century New England. So the film feels like a classic from the beginning, echoing iconic fairy tales and historical attitudes as it works its way under the skin to thoroughly freak out the audience.

It's set in 1630s Massachusetts, where a family has a clash with religious leaders and is cast out of the settlement. William and Katherine (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie) take their children out into the countryside, moving into a farm on the edge of a deep woods. As Katherine prepares to give birth to a fifth child, teen daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) helps care for her preteen brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) and the overactive twins Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson). And when the newborn infant goes missing, everyone becomes convinced that there's an evil witch living in the forest. Or perhaps one of the family members has made a pact with the devil.

By using real folktales as a basis for his screenplay, Eggers has made a film that feels like the grandfather of every exorcism and cabin-in-the-woods movie ever made. The settings and imagery are oppressively scary, as Eggers recreates the period with a sharp attention to detail, including the language, sets and costumes. And the musical score creates a nerve-rattling atmosphere, as this primal family faces what they're convinced is a spiritual threat. Into this, the actors add raw emotion that's startlingly visceral. The entire cast is excellent, with each character spiralling through a series of insane situations. And Taylor-Joy anchors the film beautifully in a star-making performance as a young woman desperately clinging to her sanity as superstition and paranoia swirl around her.

Yes, the film's bigger themes are eerily relevant, drawing out deeper feelings that are instantly recognisable today. And Eggers holds his nerve, building the suspense slowly but surely before launching into a full-on climactic horror onslaught. In many ways, this approach feels like it's aimed right at the audience's subconscious, as if we're watching the deep shadows reach out of the woods and attack this family right where it's most vulnerable, playing on their religious beliefs to stir up a sense of menacing terror. So while some viewers may grow impatient with Eggers' arthouse filmmaking style, this is a rare movie that leaves us shaken to the core.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for The Witch



The Witch

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th February 2016

Box Office USA: $8.8M

Distributed by: A24 Films

Production compaines: Parts and Labor, RT Features, Rooks Nest Entertainment, A24

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 132 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Robert Eggers

Producer: Daniel Bekerman, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Rodrigo Teixeira, Jay Van Hoy

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin, as William, as Katherine, Harvey Scrimshaw as Caleb, Lucas Dawson as Jonas, Ellie Grainger as Mercy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.