The directorial debut by Robert Eggers that received acclaim at Sundance has only seemed to have risen in popularity since its theatrical release. This horror would perhaps appeal to those more fond of creepy tension. But alas, the only thing to fear here is the acting.
Okay, okay the acting isn't the worst. William (Ralph Ineson) and Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) did really steal the show. Their use of the 17th Century New England dialogue really aided the audience to connect with the time period being portrayed. Throughout this tale, the Puritan family are slowly forced apart as they battle with not only their inner fears, but with eachother and what lies beyond the woods. The dynamic of this community and faith driven collective starting to collapse is what really makes this film work at it's core. I found that the appeal of this film really was ones perspective of it.
My liking for this feature grew with some analysis and just taking some time to think about it and appreciate. A concept that really drew me in was the idea, that everything was playing on the individual fears of the family;
- For William; his fear of family to protect and provide for those he loves.
- Katherine; the death/loses of her most cherished.
- Thomasin; everybody turning against her. Caleb; his conflict with puberty, faith and possibly banging a witch.
- And as for the Twins (Mercy & Jonas) its probably their innocence and naivety being contorted by Black Phillip. In each of these instance, some more than others, we see evolution of insecurities becoming manifested fears.
But if i had been banished from my community to endure the brutal wilderness in 1630 i would've had a little bit of a breakdown too,even without the aid of black magic.
The Star of the Show
The retired goat Charlie, here known as the legend himself Black Phillip. This creature has been governing some acclaim since the films release and its hard to say why;
Maybe its his relatively orthodox placement on the farm that contrasts with his true nature of being the bloody devil and murdering!
But, if anyone wants to learn a thing or two from the embodiment of lucifer, give @BlackPhillip a follow to see what he's been up to after hanging with the Puritans!
There are some holes in the script, but it's nothing that couldn't have been fixed by some solid editing. On many occasions i felt that just a shorter cut of a scene or a rearranging of it, would have made it much more frightening. As sometimes certain things being left to imagination are more bone-chilling. The terrifying score by Mark Korven, especially in the early acts kept me on edge and expecting something that never quite seem to come. That rings true for a summing up of this film, there was lot of tension but no real satisfaction. It was confused about what it wanted to be and by the final act all of the cards had been laid on the table, with no need to speculate.
I would score this; 3 Black Phillips out of Satan.