HALLOWEEN IS HERE!: THE WITCH [2015]

witch

Directed and Written by Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw


I feel like I can’t come up with the right words to describe this incredible movie, but I’ll try. The lingering atmosphere is executed very well from the beginning, helped along by a combination of a tense score and the use of extended periods of silence. The acting is bang-on and you don’t know when or how it is going to end. The movie doesn’t have ‘twists’ exactly, but the way it is written keeps you guessing constantly. And I personally loved the ending. Though the potential is there to use a more standard approach, The Witch however opts to go down a more subversive avenue. We witness the true nature of religious persecution. Additionally, elements of the story have been taken from historical documents, adding another layer of grimness. The supernatural elements are obviously up for discussion, but that these tales were written centuries ago somehow adds more to this disturbing film.

cdn.indiewire.comThe film is set in 1630, in New England, America. A Puritan family is banished from town for their beliefs (or it at least seems this way, perhaps based on these events). They are forced to move to a farm that feels like the edge of the world, as from the opening the woods that line the farm are presented in an ominous fashion, almost creating a character that could serve as the scariest element of the film. What exactly goes on in there? Why can’t the children venture inside? Suddenly, without warning, tragedy strikes. The family clings to their faith to prevent them from starving as their crops die, with nothing they can do to prevent it.

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The period is an appropriate choice given how humans treated each other centuries ago, and an ideal setting for a horror tale. Some conversations require a little more attention, as the characters speak in ‘ye olde English’ which takes a little getting used to, but it adds another layer of mystery as the family is struck by more inexplicable hardships, causing them to become wary of each other, which in turn leaves them in a increasingly vulnerable state. I can’t say that I was scared, but I do know that I was gripping the armrests pretty hard for most of the film. Hell, they manage to make a scene where a man is hunting a rabbit seem tense and creepy!

The.Witch2

Additionally, this is not for inattentive viewers; I could see clock-watching all around me. The incredible camerawork almost reminds me of Paul Thomas Anderson in There Will Be Blood, with many long takes, often slowly panning or zooming in. There is also a focus on facial close-ups reminiscent of Bergman, all of which is a feast to watch on an IMAX screen. The score matches this camerawork almost to perfection, while there is often a lengthy silence between dialogue to contrast the tense music. It also must be mentioned that the child actors really shine, out-doing their older counterparts.

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This really is my sort of horror film. No jump-scares, convincing acting and a focus on a dark, foreboding atmosphere rather than the grotesque and bloody. This is another of those films I would label as a psychological thriller, as the supernatural horrors are kept almost completely out of view as we witness the downfall of a family who are all affected, turning on each other as their faith is truly tested.

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This film couldn’t have catered to my interests more; I can’t recommend it to everybody, but if you go in with no preconceived notions you’ll be in for a tasty5.5 beer - no beer top, if not nasty surprise. The suspense is almost unparalleled among recent films, and the ‘horror’ genre conventions are cleverly subverted to deliver a film that is better than It Follows while being completely different. In addition to all this, there is much to take in thematically if you are so inclined… Hell, I’d love to see this again to do just that.

This one is worth a full sixer.

6/6

36 Comments on “HALLOWEEN IS HERE!: THE WITCH [2015]

  1. Oh, I can’t wait to see this! My colleagues at Assholes Watching Movies are seeing it at the New Hampshere Film Festival this weekend and I’m completely envious.

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  2. Fantastic dude, fantastic. Cannot wait to see this. The early buzz has been so strong it’s reminding me of things like The Babadook and Spring from recent years. Atmospheric, you say? This has my name all over it.

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  3. Great write-up Jordan, I’m really looking forward to seeing this. The trailer creeped me out; like you, I’m a fan of these slow-burning, tension-filled horror outings. The cinematography looks stunning — your There Will Be Blood comparison is exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • its a tension filled horror outing that is for sure. And its so creepy to know that people were that nuts back then, religious persecution and witchcraft and whatnot. Its the perfect place to base a movie like this, I hope you like it! I look forward to hearing your thoughts

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember hearing a lot about this one earlier this year when it premiered at Sundance and scared everyone stiff 😀 Sounds really interesting. Great Review, brother!

    And love this renaissance that indie-horror is suddenly experiencing. Babadook and It Follows started it and The Witch looks like it’s carrying the torch. Hope we can see more original horror films like this one in the future.

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  7. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO – this is finally out here – but it’s only available for purchase – think it’s worth 15 bucks? I think it looks fantastic. Is it re-watchable?

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    • I need to rewatch it myself as I forget the ending. But it was October when I saw it and my memory is SHIT so… I dunno about replay value, but fuck me its an amazing movie man. I’d go for it! (as long as money isn’t a major issue)

      Feel free to piss into a jar and post it to me if you hate it, haha 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • AWESOME DUDE!! 🙂 We gonna see a write-up about it soon? ;D

        BTW, Shitfest – Can I make this happen? Or is it still just too much effort on your end. Cos like I said man I have FUCK ALL to do most days, having something like this would get me busy and doinbg something productive, instead of smoking cones while watching movie after movie 😛

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    • It really is brilliant isn’t it? That soundtrack, the photography, the acting (from relative unknowns which made it so much better for me), olde English tak… and the fact it is based in the 1600’s, all make for perhaps the best recent horror film? Which would you pick, It Follows or The Witch?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. So glad you liked this one! It was my most anticipated of the year and unlike Suicide Squad this didn’t let me down. That ending is still my favorite of any movie from 2016 though The Neon Demon had an incredible one too

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah its a toss up between those two for best ending…. I lean towards the Witch tho. Your post about it was fantastic too

      BTW, the extended version of SS is out and about. Barely anything different, I still like the movie but there is still fuck all of Leto. =/

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