Robert Eggers’ directorial debut, “The Witch,” was a surprisingly well made thriller. That’s right, a thriller, not the straightforward horror it’s been advertised as.
Taking place in 1630 New England, “The Witch” follows a family of seven who were exiled from their unspecified settlement. Taking their banishment with dignity, the father, mother, and five children (one teenager, a younger boy, a small boy and girl, and an infant son) build a new home for themselves next to the woods, a few miles away.
Shortly after beginning their farm, their infant child is stolen from the family under the watch of the eldest daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy). From this point on, the mystery of “The Witch” builds and the tension between the family increases. Relationships are strained, and the movie ends with a shocking and disturbing finale.
The strongest point of “The Witch” is the incredible acting. Every single performance in this film was noteworthy, even by the two featured child actors. Taylor-Joy did a wonderful job as Thomasin, the father and mother (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie) were amazing, and Ralph Ineson especially made a great, gravelly voiced man of God. The eldest son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) was phenomenal in his first major role.
Every line delivered is believable. Every facial expression feels real. The performances by every actor are what made “The Witch” as good as it is.
Apart from the acting, the costumes and lighting are perfect. The immersion of the film is never broken. Natural lighting and authentic costumes made me feel like I was actually watching a family from the 1600s in early America. The religious aspect, which is a major part of the film, was also handled well, giving an accurate representation of the major beliefs and practices of the time.
Now, in terms of actual horror, “The Witch” falls short. But that’s not its fault. The movie is marketed as a horror movie, when in reality it’s a very well made and disturbing thriller. Tension builds throughout the movie, and there are several implied, but not directly shown, grotesque moments.
The writing, lighting, costumes, and acting are all amazing in “The Witch,” but while I say that, I must admit I was let down by the film. I blame it on a coworker of mine hyping it up to be one of the best movies I’ll ever see. I went in expecting and wanting it to be perfect. What I got was, at no fault to the movie, a very solid 9/10.
My biggest complaint with the movie is actually right at the very end, but I won’t spoil it. You should definitely see the movie, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the genre. The quality of the film itself makes it worth seeing. I highly recommend it.