Anya Taylor-Joy, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Directed by Robert Eggers
A Christian family living in exile during the mid-1600’s find that it’s too easy to turn on each other when their lives take a desperate turn.
Thomasin (Taylor-Joy), is the oldest daughter out of five siblings, and she is just beginning to bloom into womanhood. When she loses her baby brother near the outskirts of the woods, her family begins to face a turmoil that will test their faith. While the crops fail and the family slowly starves, the father takes his second eldest son, Caleb (Scrimshaw), into the woods to hunt. Yet the traps set earlier by the father yield no rewards.
There is an unnerving presence in the woods. The younger children speak of a witch and to stop the siblings from playing around, Thomasin claims she is the witch in the woods. For a while, the confession is not mentioned until Caleb disappears. He returns at nightfall, ill and on the edge of death. Living in these strictly religious times, the children accuse Thomasin of cursing their brother and family. The parents go crazy but believe they might have a witch under their roof.
There has never been a movie as disturbing or unsettling that revolves around the period of American colonialism like The Witch. The story and dialogue are credited at the conclusion of the film by inspirations from historical texts, fairytales and poetry. When the movie opens up to 17th Century costumes and early English speech, it at once pulls the audience into this world.
The Witch sets a family far enough away from civilization that they can’t ask for help when their children get lost in the woods. Neither can they face the humiliation to go back and beg for food when they worry about the oncoming winter. All the while they have no one to blame for their suffering, so they turn on Thomasin because her younger siblings called her a witch.
From the isolation to the constant misfortune that falls on this family, the idea of an evil spirit lingers in the back of your mind the whole movie. Little clues point that way and within the first five minutes of the movie, there is something that points to danger in the woods. The music intensifies each scene, which gives The Witch a suspenseful tone throughout watching it.
On top of all the horror, the acting is so convincing you believe this is actually happening. For child actors, the siblings did a great job, especially Thomasin whom the film follows. It can’t have been easy to find the right actors to play in these parts.
The Witch is like watching a nightmare you can’t wake up from, and just when you think it’s over, it gets scarier.