The Witch is written and directed by Robert Eggers and stars Anya Taylor Joy, Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson as a medieval family who have been cast out of their village and forced to live in a cottage next to a forest where a witch supposedly lives. In recent years horror movies have tended to grow formulaic and generic, with each new instalment in the genre bringing nothing new to the table. However, signs of this changing have been shown in the past 2 or 3 years, in the fact that each year a truly great horror film is released. In 2013 it was The Conjuring, in 2014 it was The Babadook, in 2015 it was It Follows and now, in 2016, I can say that The Witch is the newest instalment in this horror movie resurgence. Heres my take on The Witch.
This film is eerie. It chills to the bone and deeply unsettles it's audience in a way that is far more effective than a 3D Paranormal Activity movie. It uses editing, cinematography, shot composition and spectacular direction to bring it's scares, and whilst there is a jump scare here and there, the film pretty much throws that idea out the window, making the jump scares the least memorable part of the film. In fact the creepiest moments come through the moments of stillness, the moments where you can see a single shot of a vast open space and you have no idea whats lurking in the shadows. And this comes back to camerawork and cinematography, two aspects of the film which play a vital role in getting under the audiences skin, and honestly, it's admirable how they used it.
The performances are all pretty solid in this film, with all the actors echoing the confusing nature of the film. This is a film that constantly plays with your perception of who to trust and leaves you in the dark, not revealing alot of what is actually going on, but instead putting you in a place of uncertainty, and the actors do a respectable job at giving this sense of confusion. The script is simplistic, and so is the dialogue, as this movie focuses on visual storytelling and just haunting visual images rather than spoon-feeding the audience. However, where dialogue is present, it is fantastic and does it's intended job. I will say though that alot of the dialogue is in old english and the actors have quite thick northern accents, so it is admittedly sometimes hard to understand quite what they are saying.
My only real issue with this film is that there were a couple of moments where something extremely surreal or odd happened and i questioned just how necessary it was. For example, and not to spoil anything, there is a scene involving the mother and a crow that was just a little too strange for me, although it did add to the uncomfortable atmosphere of the film, so it can be argued that it had a purpose. It's not really a big issue, just something that made me ponder the purpose of certain moments.
After all is said and done, the ending of this movie is equal parts genius and terrifying. It's one that leaves the audience thinking about the film long after it is over, and discussing it too. The plot concludes in a way that seems to both make everything that you just saw oddly clear, but at the same time leaves you thinking, "what just happened?". It certainly needs to be thought about, as do many great films. Overall though, this film was haunting. It was one of the creepiest horror films I've seen in a long time, and brought us something much different to the usual horror get up. It chills to the bone and leaves you flinching in terror, and The Witch is a film that people need to see and understand how to make a good horror movie.
So have you seen The Witch? What did you think? Make sure to let me know in the comments and go to http://moviepilot.com/garwoodreviews for more reviews like this, including ones for 10 Cloverfield Lane and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.