Film Review: The Witch

Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - February 20, 2016
Film Review: The Witch

The Witch, while exceptionally alluring, woefully disappoints.

Leading up to the screening of this film, I was enthralled at the possibility of viewing a film so highly praised at Sundance Film Festival in 2015. The hype was massive, including my favorite theater Alamo Drafthouse placing this feature on it’s Drafthouse recommends list. Naturally, I was expecting something truly impeccable, unfortunately, I came a way underwhelmed at the experience.

The Witch follows a family of six attempting to make a life for themselves after leaving a plantation due to religious disagreements. The farm they establish quickly becomes of concern, as their crops will not grow and their future looks bleak. Things take a horrifying turn for the worst when their infant child suddenly vanishes without a trace. In typical horror fashion, we then continue to see completely inexplicable events that can only be attributed to some demonic source, in this case of course, The Witch. These happenings provide limited scare and mediocre thrill, which I feel is really where this narrative is lacking. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of films of this genre, but I attribute that to the lack of complexity they provide when it comes to their scares. Many times, including in the case of The Witch, the pivotal moments have little shock value to them, and a world of predictability.

In any movie review I do, the technical elements of a film make up a good portion of how I value the movie as a whole, and I will say that The Witch is absolutely stunning in every facet of the imagination. The cinematography is world class, and I would liken it to the quality of The Revenant; an incredible accomplishment considering the minimalist budget The Witch used. Performances by Ralph Ineson as William and Kate Dickie as Katherine as wonderful, however the flawless performance by Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin is what truly captivates the audience. This feature truly brings you into the 1600’s with it’s costume design and skillfully written dialog. Director/Writer Robert Eggers proves to audiences your last name need not be Spielberg or Tarantino to produce something extravagant.

I think it is safe to say I was thoroughly impressed with the production value and execution of The Witch, where it loses me is it’s lack of depth. I would have liked to see more evolution and attention paid to the demonic character itself, rather than focusing on the families struggle exclusively, however this is likely intentional on Eggers’ part, as the element of mystery seems to be important to the feature. Horror and black magic fans will adore this film, and it is certainly an intriguing watch, however I wouldn’t place this film atop the upper echelon of narratives, as it simply feels incomplete. Maybe Eggers will provide us with a sequel, or a continuation of some sort, which I would love, as it would provide further explanation and information about this satanic being portrayed in this movie. Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was my lack of fondness for the genre, either way, The Witch will entertain you, but it will not amaze you.

Official Trailer:

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