Society used to have an exaggerated fear of witches, and many people died as a result of that hysteria. In the last three hundred years that fear has diminished significantly, but could there have been a tangible reason behind the great witch hunts in Europe and the Salem witch trials?
For the most part, Hollywood has not done the best job in reflecting the true horror that people felt during the dark times associated with witchcraft. People were fearful of witches, and their connection to the devil. On the other side, people were afraid of being accused of witchcraft, due to the impossible tests they would have to pass to prove their innocence. The television show Salem has brought us a sense of the terror that inflicted our ancestors. It illustrates the darkness surrounding the community of Salem in the midst of paranoia, and showcases how easily an assumption can spread. The Witch has the potential to surpass Salem as the most disturbing depiction of witchcraft to date.
The Witch promises to be a groundbreaking new take on the horror genre. Check out the official the synopsis below:
New England, 1630. Upon threat of banishment by the church, an English farmer leaves his colonial plantation, relocating his wife and five children to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest — within which lurks an unknown evil. Strange and unsettling things begin to happen almost immediately — animals turn malevolent, crops fail, and one child disappears as another becomes seemingly possessed by an evil spirit. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, family members accuse teenage daughter Thomasin of witchcraft, charges she adamantly denies. As circumstances grow more treacherous, each family member's faith, loyalty and love become tested in shocking and unforgettable ways (A24 Films).
The Witch takes place prior to the notorious Salem Witch Trials, and therefore has more in common with the epidemic of witchcraft in Europe, than the isolated accounts within the village of Salem. The rising accusations in the sixteenth century lead us to wonder if there was a valid reason behind the intense fear of witches. The Malleus Maleficarum (otherwise known as The Hammer of Witches) was written in 1486 by two inquisitors, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, with the sole purpose of verifying the indisputable existence of witches. The book provided instructions on how to identify, prosecute, and punish witches, ultimately leading to an outbreak of accusations. People were led to believe that everything from crop failures to plague outbreaks were the work of witches who made a pact with the devil. Stories of witches stealing children and performing ritualistic ceremonies in the woods led to further fear. It's impossible to differentiate the stories from reality, but there is something to be said about the numerous accounts and sheer number of people who truly believed and claimed to have witnessed demonic activity. Was there really an outbreak of witchcraft that spanned hundreds of years, or was the real infection simply paranoia?
While The Witch probably won't include the troubling procedures that the accused witches had to endure to prove their innocence during witch trials, such as the swimming test, or pricking test, it's nice to know the history behind the legends. The Witch is sure to leave an impact on the horror genre, and is guaranteed to make 2016 a year to remember for horror fans. Check out the trailer below.
The website dedicated to The Witch has a 'face of evil generator' that allows you to upload a picture of yourself, or an animal; It can then be altered to create your very own Witch poster resembling the official movie posters.