The Witch (2016)

4 stars

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

Director: Robert Eggers

Synopsis: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.


Upon it’s release, The Witch received a mixed response. Mostly good reviews by critics, but from audiences, the reactions were much more diverse. Some hated it, some liked it. There was no real in between. The main reason is because of the unfortunate miss-advertisement, from the trailer to the posters, it just wasn’t what audiences were expecting.

The final product was one of the scariest films in the past decade. It’s very rare for a modern horror film to rely on tension, music, tone, mood and atmosphere, rather than cliché jump scares and acting that makes you cringe. This is the complete opposite, Robert Eggers gives us a horror tale of mystery and dread, you genuinely feel scared and anxious for the characters, which again is rare.

The real story of The Witch is the story of how a family, living in folklore England, deal with the loss of their youngest baby. The story opens with Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy)playing with this baby and suddenly the child disappears. We then see a spine chilling depiction of a witch, in the shadows so she is rarely seen, who performs – what can only be described as a violent, disturbing ritual. This sets the dark mood of the unsettling tale of misery and misfortune.

Like I said, the witch isn’t the main focus of the film, but much more of a background story arc which is told from the continuous disappearances of the remaining children. They are manipulated by the witch, causing possession and satanic activities. Thomasin is the only remaining child by the end.

What seems to intrigue me every time is what’s beneath the surface. This horror masterwork makes you think for hours after the runtime has finished. The ending is so open for discussion, far fetched but satisfyingly obvious. In fact, the ending could mean hundreds of different things. The last 10 minutes is purely built with tension. Everyone who watches The Witch will walk out with a different interpretation of the film, whether it be Thomasin becoming the witch, or whether it was all a bad dream.

The music is so effective, you feel like your watching something bloody, gory and violent, but your really not. The lack of blood works in its advantage! The idea that a background score can make you believe something that isn’t actually there.

The Witch truly is an example of horror done right, and exhilarating filmmaking at it’s best.