Over a century before nation was founded a plague swept through towns in New England. It was highly contagious and potentially quite lethal but the etiology was not with a virus or bacteria but the uncontrolled human emotion; fear. That was the time the Salem witch trials are jealous neighbor on odd birthmark condemn somebody to death. There have been in a number of movies that have tapped into this story but very few can come close to the quality and craftsmanship found in each frame of this movie; ‘The Witch’ written and directed by Robert Eggers a filmmaker was just beginning to make his mark as an artist based on the power and emotional honesty of this movie is someone to keep an eye on. In the typical Hollywood movie concerned with witchcraft the main theme is inevitably the pervasive mass hysteria and the subsequent cruel methods use to locate and punish the riches in their community. While this is a valid viewpoint for such a story has been openly done, picked clean like a Thanksgiving turkey on Saturday afternoon. While officially designated as a horror movie it is actually the epitome of a psychological thriller. The budget of only $3.5 million this movie serves as proof that the independent filmmaker is still one of the best sources of imagination and originality found in the movie industry. Witchcraft had been invaluable resource back in the era of the Grindhouse movie as it was highly conducive to the inclusion of sex, violence and gore in a film. With this film if you witchcraft has finally matured as a central theme resulting in a taut and exceptionally compelling examination of the effects of fear.
Towards the middle of the 17th century William (Ralph Ineson) was excommunicated and banished from his Puritan community, a plantation in New England. It been found guilty of prideful conceit in the punishment also affected his pregnant wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), the teenage daughter, Thomasina (Anya Taylor-Joy) are younger brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) and the youngest of the family fraternal twins Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson). William tries his best to make do for his family but he is left with only rugged, unyielding soil just on the edge of a large forest. Soon after their exile Katherine gives birth to a son they name Samuel. One morning while Thomasina is playfully caring for her youngest brother seven suddenly disappears. There have been rumors that deep in the forest that is a witch kidnaps babies. Once she has the innocent child she uses it like for an appointment that once applied on her body allows her to fly. Katherine quickly spirals into depression spending all day crying and praying for her lost child. Despite the horrible experience the daily chore of obtaining food still must be attended to. You and Caleb go hunting but Caleb’s mind is not on the prey. Yes his father will happen to an unbaptized baby soul. The father confides in his son that he had to take the one family heirloom, his mother’s prized silver cup, and traded for supplies. The missing cup and that live soon undermine the trust in the family exacerbating the fear already started by the witch.
If you are the type of horror fan that expects a film to consist of a string of rapidly escalating violence then this is not for you. The target demographic for this film is people who can appreciate that exceptionally well-constructed story. Combining the genres of mystery, horror psychological thriller it understandably takes a considerable amount of time to introduce the key elements and allow them to simmer. The first act is fundamentally exposition placing each of the characters in the role they play for their family. William is exceptionally strict with his religion, even by Puritan standards. It is possible to surmise from his actions after the loss of his son that his sin of conceit was in his belief that his interpretation of the Bible Howard to guide his actions was substituted for community standards.
The potential for supernatural interference begins to increase the twins claims that their goat, Black Phillip spoke to them. The trends are quite a handful not exactly the most obedient children. Watching them is usually Thomasina’s chore with everything else going on is quite stressed for young girls to bear. At one point she is so exacerbated with them that she threatens them to keep quiet. The tipping point is when Mercy accuses Thomasina of being responsible for Samuel’s abduction. At that point the Thomasina threatens her young siblings by telling them that she’s the Witch of the Woods. At supper time Katherine accuses Thomasina of stealing the stove a cup she increases the insult by also blaming her for the disappearance of Samuel. What the children are supposed to be asleep younger ones over here the mother and father discussing sending Thomasina away as a servant for another family. He is at this point that filmmaker turns up the heat story begins to boil in earnest. Caleb finds the family the dog is disemboweled in the woods. Moving on he finds a house that is inhabited by a young woman (Sarah Stephens) dressed in the scarlet robe tries to seduce the young boy with an embrace. Caleb finally returns home that night there is a heavy rainstorm. He appears at the family home soaking in naked soon succumb to some mysterious illness. The father tries having the family prayed the boy quickly succumbs to his illness at which point the twins openly accused Thomasina of being a witch.
Considering this is the filmmaker’s first full-length feature is done a remarkable job resetting the bar of excellence for this genre. The growing fear and constantly increasing paranoia is usually shown affecting individual members of the community but here it is given a more intimate setting as distrust and fear take over a small isolated family. Having younger look Thomasina serve as the point of your character was a bold decision one that was executed to perfection. To put such a heavy emotional burden on a character who is just entering her teens could easily have backfired. Fortunately the young actress who took on this role, Anya Taylor-Joy, is completely captivating. With her slight build and sweet features the audience immediately begins empathize with is the true victim of life circumstances. So fall the sin that brought them out to the edge of the forest away from the familiarity of their community. She’s burdened on a daily basis with chores around the house and watching her younger siblings, particularly the rambunctious twins. There is no way to describe just how on the market performances without giving us for those of you just have to see it to believe it. Mr. Eggers was able to help get the performance so ideally structured unbelievably well-placed nuances that you are going to want to watch this movie several times over even after you know the dénouement. There’s a fierce this movie that is highly reminiscent of a stage play. The sets are simplistic and help set the mood emotional and psychological isolation. Considering all the exploitive supernatural horror films that are always on the marquee might be predisposed to avoiding yet another one about witchcraft. If you allow such a preconception to deter you from watching this missed out on incredible cinematic