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

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

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.