Review: The Witch (2015)

My Plot review: Recommended
Star rating: Star rating of 3

Thomasin - The Witch

Robert Eggers directorial debut crash landed at Sundance 2015 to critical aplomb, scooping the best directing award in the U.S. Dramatic category. Countless festival appearances have ensued and now a year after its debut, it finally opens here March 11th.

Set in 1630, a family is excommunicated from their New England Puritan plantation and forced to start a new life in exile. Lead by William (Ralph Ineson), the family patriarch and the reason for the families banishment, the family settles at a patch of land close to the woods. Once their new home is built, the blossoming Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing with their new born in the field by the woods, when he is absconded by The Witch. From here the family are torn apart at the seams as tragedy after tragedy is bestowed upon them. Is there really a Witch in the woods? Or does the perpetrator live closer to home?

Thomasin’s plight is the central focus of the film, from her burgeoning sexuality to her families distrust in her. She is the scapegoat for all the families misery, while actual-goat, Black Phillip, who seems to have a bizarre kinship with her younger siblings, is disregarded.

Visually, the film relies heavily on natural light and the beauty of the surroundings – It’s easy to make comparisons to work of Emmanuel Lubezki on THE REVENANT, but the cinematography doesn’t have the flair or execution of the aforementioned.

The dialogue weighs the film down, whilst it’s an admirable choice and adds to the films authenticity, it does become a laborious task to decipher.

The film has been lauded as “The horror film of 2016” and while the approach Eggers makes is certainly unique and interesting, it doesn’t merit this plaudit. If anything, it does the film a disservice. The horror is oft lacking, the dread and threat diminished as the films slow-burn nature becomes languid for vast sections, to the point of tedium.

This is more an exploration of the corruption of innocence, religious intolerance and the fragility of sanity in isolation. But mainstream audiences, who expect to see the best horror has to offer, will be disappointed with the film.

While The Witch excels in certain aspects, it feels long, even at a trim 90 minute runtime.

Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? You might find The Witch spellbinding, or you may feel it’s a lot of hubble bubble, but lacks the toil and trouble.