The Witch (2015) A New-England Folktale
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers
Cinematographer: Jarin Blaschke
For my first ever post, I thought I’d grace this little blog with a seething presence. The Witch is a film I’ve been waiting for for the best part of the year. “The most gripping horror of the century” was a line I felt I read over and over and over in regards to this film. A horror, it is not. If, by horror you are expecting cheap thrills, jump scares, ghosties and ghoulies bursting out at every chance to make you leave your skin behind in your seat (not that this has much effect on horror fans anymore) and it isn’t by any means a slasher. The Witch is uncomfortable, unsettling, abusive to the ears on occasion with an ever rising and falling musical score and fuck, it isn’t half empowering for women. This film really is not for everyone. Appreciators of the beautiful and bizarre though, well, it should have peaked your interest already.
The Witch focuses on a puritan New England family in the 1630s. The family finds themselves tumbling down a dark hole of paranoia and hysteria after the youngest son goes missing under the care of their eldest daughter. The “oldie worldie” language may automatically cut off a large portion of its potential audience, much to my dismay because I found the use of appropriate language much to the films credit. Along with the fairly Northern accents adopted by the actors, typically, if an actor is English in a film you expect (or just get) the very typical prim and proper Englishmen. Not the case here, which again, I liked.
The slow, steady and meditative pace put me in what felt like a trance-like state throughout my viewing. I was utterly transfixed, looking between the lines, trying to peek behind the curtain before the curtain even presented itself. A constant feeling of unrest and obscurity resides beneath everything you’re witnessing. The film is almost stripped entirely of colour, it is nothing but a world made up of hues of grey and brown yet it still manages to be absolutely beautiful to look at. I could talk about Black Phillip (the glorious goat you may have seen in trailers and posters for this film) but I won’t really. I just appreciated a massive black smear of shadow on the constant scenes of muggy grey.
I like to give credit where credit is due and Anya Taylor-Joy alongside her screen mother Kate Dickie were a force to be reckoned with. Before I went in to the screening, I knew Kate Dickie had this. Her frankly horrific and unnerving role of Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones had me set and ready for full crazy momma and man, did she deliver. Her performance alone is worth watching this film for.
All in all, this film is not for everyone but so long as you go in knowing what to expect, as a genuine fan of horror or with an open mind, you can come out satisfied. If you do not, you will be one of the many the left the cinema alongside me saying things along the lines of “who writes this shit” or “that wasn’t even a horror film, Insideous was better.”
Before I wrap up, I just want to mention again that this film is so incredibly empowering for women. The ending is purely metaphorical (or it was to me) and I sat and basked in its glory. I don’t really want to spoil films here, unless I feel the need to truly discuss them. Ladies, go see the movie and come to talk to me about how you felt about the last 10-15 minutes of the film.
For fans of : The Babadook, The Woman, It Follows