As soon as the credits rolled, all I could do was rave about [The Witch](tag:3485655). The award-winning film hit wide release after its success at Sundance and has become a hit as the acclaim continues to roll in. However, once I got out of the theater, my fellow moviegoers didn’t seem to feel the same. The main complaints were that it was too boring and not scary at all. One person even called it a “movie for smart people.” They didn’t seem to grasp Director Robert Eggers’ message. Here are the three reasons why The Witch was amazing and why you need to give it another shot.
1. The Slow Burn
People who were going into The Witch expecting a slasher with jump scares at every corner came out sorely disappointed. The Witch was dialogue heavy, focusing on the characters more than the creature that’s out to haunt them. The dialogue was sometimes hard to pick up, but very authentic to the time period. While most horror films use jump scares to make up for the lack of a story, Director and Writer Robert Eggers takes all the time he needs to flesh out the plot. The dinner and the hunt in the forest were examples of drawn out scenes that illustrated the family’s personalities and how they fit into this timeline. Instead of feeling boring and long, the slow burn brought tension and made the viewer actually study the surroundings and themes, rather than just wait to be scared.
2. Commentary on Female Sexuality
The Witch is set in the Puritan era, which wasn’t exactly a fun time for women. They were expected to be obedient, religious, and think of their husbands more than themselves. Eggers makes sure that the viewer knows of Thomasin’s struggles of approaching womanhood. Her mother is pressuring her to become a governess and her brother gives off some strange incestual vibes. The witch herself is more than just a monster. She is a metaphor for female sexuality. Witchcraft was primarily seen as talking to the devil and sinning in someway. Eggers parallels sinning with female sexuality. Seeing Thomasin embrace her “sins” and smiling for the first time in the film shows how religious faith could be misguided.
3. Beautiful Setting and Cinematography
Eggers spent so much time making sure that everything was as authentic as possible with his low budget. He even wanted all of the clothes be hand-woven but couldn’t afford to do so. But, regardless, it was a beautiful film. The woods were constantly claustrophobic with the branches and trees covering most of the open space. There were so many different motifs and symbolic references that every frame was a painting. Eggers uses blood, animals, and space to convey different messages and themes. One of the more symbolic moments was when Thomasin was milking a sheep but saw blood come out of her instead. The temptation to move away from God is a big theme and it’s illustrated beautifully. Even if people didn’t find the film enjoyable, they all agreed that it was one of the most beautiful films of 2016 so far.
The Witch may not be for everybody, but those who give it a chance are in for a beautiful treat. It's terrifying but not in the traditional sense. Similar to the film, It Follows, it takes advantage of its location and symbolism to make viewers uncomfortable of what they don't see rather than what's on screen. Eggers did a fantastic job and proved that you don't have to see large amounts of gore to be scared.