The Witch (2015)
My most anticipated horror movie of the year — thanks to an original setting, a gripping trailer, and glowing reviews — I went into The Witch with high expectations. I was not disappointed!
The film follows a family of early New England settlers who are banished from their Puritan village for being too puritan. Their solitary life in the wilderness is soon disrupted when their baby boy suddenly disappears, taken by a wolf, or possibly a witch? A creeping hysteria begins to take hold of the family members, who are all sympathetic yet suspicious characters:
There is the father, a Jesus-like figure, except he displays none of the qualities of the Lord and Savior. The mother, fearful and paranoid, is most susceptible to insanity. The children (amazing: Anya Taylor-Joy, a young Michelle Williams) are trying to reconcile their budding rebelliousness and sexuality with their strict religious beliefs. Meanwhile, an evil entity is lurking in the woods.
Is it a witch or the devil himself? Or just the manifestation of the family’s misguided fanaticism? The Witch is as much an unnerving family drama as it is a disturbing horror film. It’s not an easy sell: The combination of the old English dialect, and visual references to Francisco Goya, Häxan (1922), and Lars von Trier’s aesthetic, requires some cultural capital to enjoy. But those who appreciate atmospheric horror over jump-scares will find The Witch a truly rewarding experience.