The Witch is the first blockbuster release to come from writer and director Robert Eggers. Taking place in 1630s New England, The Witch follows a family that finds themselves isolated within the North American frontier, building a home in a clearing in the woods. The title of the movie speaks for itself, as the family is threatened to be torn apart by witchcraft and mistrust.

A promotional poster from 2016's "The Witch"
A promotional poster from 2016’s “The Witch”

From an objective standpoint, the movie is remarkably well shot. Unique camera angles that often keep the danger just out of shot, extensive usage of natural lighting (lighting created on set as opposed to through extra lights), and masterfully crafted set and costume design offer a movie that is as visually appealing as it is oppressive. It’s this oppressive tone that ultimately makes the movie, as this is the main source of dread that The Witch feeds off of.

Coupled with a somber and disturbing soundtrack comprised mainly of strings and religious overtones, The Witch offers a disturbing 92 minutes of distressing footage, that seeks to make the audience uncomfortable and grimace at horrible imagery, as opposed to the more blunt and abundant jump-scare movies that can be found quite commonly in today’s horror scene.

Because of this, it’s important that The Witch comes with a fair warning: this is a very slow burn, and intentionally paced movie. It finds strength in tone and imagery, and plays these strengths often through the film. If you’re looking for a simple jump-fest, this isn’t a movie for you, and a lot of the time you’ll probably be left very bored, and trying to understand just what the characters are saying through their very authentic but thick 1630s New England accents.

Speaking of which, these accents are spoken very believably and thoroughly throughout the movie by the solid cast. Anya Taylor-Joy often steals the show as Thomasin, delivering both an intense and relatable delivery of her role as the eldest daugher of the family. Actors Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie also offer exceptional roles, with child actors Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, and Lucas Dawson being some of the best child acting I’ve seen in a movie in some time, and that is something that is quite hard to come by. Many critics have even given immense credit to an on-set animal that plays the role of Black Phillip, a surprisingly terrifying goat in The Witch, for stealing the show at times.

All and all, The Witch is both a very dreadful (in every positive sense of the word) and very artistic take on New England folklore, offering a refreshing experience from the usual jump-scare filled horror movies of today. Because of this however it is not at all for everyone. If you’re just looking for a simple and fun horror flick, this may not be the right choice for you. Either way, The Witch is a very powerful first start for director Eggers, and with good reason has received very positive reviews both critically and otherwise.

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