If you judged The Witch by the film’s marketing campaign, one would expect a Salem Witch Trial inspired horror flick with some cheap thrills. If you’re thinking this is how the new horror film plays out on-screen, you would be wrong. The Witch is an eerie slow burn that puts the audience directly into the supernatural terror that haunts this early 17th Century New England family trying to make a life of their own alone in the woods.
Now if you’re looking for those cheap scares where doors slam and monsters pop out on-screen causing a startle from the audience, you won’t find that in The Witch. Director Robert Eggers gives an accurate portrayal of settler life in the New World. The struggle of everyday life in this brutal landscape is explored while also mixing the element of witchcraft into the equation. You don’t see many horror films with the attention to detail like The Witch, giving movie goers chills while also providing a look into the life of the pioneers battling the harsh and unforgiving terrain.
The cast of relative unknown actors shine in The Witch. We have become accustomed to terrible acting in our horror films so it’s such a difference to see some truly fleshed out characters where the audience cares about their fate. The whole cast does a fine job, but the two stand outs are Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Ineson. Taylor-Joy gives a star turning performance playing Thomasin, the eldest daughter of the family who is deeply involved in the tragic events that set the story in motion. Ineson also gives an honest performance as William, a father just trying to hold his family together during very dark times.
The characters in The Witch are far from one-dimensional and this helps add to the story while the build up to fear is taking place on film. Some could be disappointed with the pace of The Witch and the director’s choice to leave the audience in the dark at times and taking his time revealing the evil that haunts them. The Witch may not be a scare a minute movie experience, but the thoughts placed in your head by this creepy tale sticks with you long after the credits have rolled.
Overall, I give The Witch 3 out of 4 stars.