- on Friday, 19 February 2016 04:54
- by Loron Hays
Ladies and Gentlemen, Robert Eggers has arrived. The Witch is easily the most disturbing horror film I’ve seen in theaters in a long, long while.
Writing and directing an impressive debut, the creative artist behind The Witch has done a lot of things right, including the research. His stunning film is a full of historically rich and severely dark musings and – without one single jump scare – it delivers a truly horrifying experience that unsettles the audience as much as it does scare the shit out of them.
The pacing is deliberate and expressive in nature. From grammar structures to the absolute fear of the land, The Witch gets it right. Eggers’ research – noting the differences between Calvinism and Puritanism and even down to the fairy tales and the role of the rabbit in folklore – is exhaustive and quite noticeable up on the big screen. But let’s be clear, the movie is nothing we all haven’t seen before. It’s full of witches and demonic possessions and blood, blood, blood. To his credit, Eggers takes all of this and makes the familiar feel so very fresh again and downright effective.
The Witch will haunt you long past its closing credits. This is a movie that celebrates the unnatural by placing it squarely in the natural world, one that languidly casts a haunting spell upon you. Set during a time in America when the woods - the dark and dangerous woods - were considered the birthplace of all things dark and devilish, The Witch is a blood-soaked atmospheric ride through our own past.
It’s the 17th century. We are in a very different New England. It is wild and new and everything about this candle-lit shoot is authentic. The Puritan family at the center of Eggers script is already secluded by the wilderness and thick wood around them. The devil is oh so close you can almost hear its knocking on their front door.
And that wicked presence is felt in every single frame of this historically accurate beast.
The father of this family, William (Ralph Ineson), claims that his family will tame the savage land. We are not so sure. And when their youngest disappears and the crops start dying, his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) flees into prayer that he might bring them out of the darkness and back to civilization. There are signs all over the place. Cue the paranoia. Trust me, you will already be creeped out by the many moods of The Witch.
The supernatural is literally swallowing them. The creatures – a raven, a black ram – are more than what they seem as their symbolic nature echoes into the night falling around this homestead. And the people in the closest town are no help. Rumors, rumors, rumors. Even the wind casts judgments.
Add into the mix the engorged hormones of Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), his prolonged glances at his sister, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), and her own angsty tales of dancing with the devil she tells her twin youngest siblings (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson) and you have one hell of a spooky recipe is service of the devil’s work.
When the credits roll, it’s our turn to ask the questions. Some audiences will be shaken to the core and question their own beliefs, others will invite the debate and testify, but when a movie this powerful is actually being heralded by the Satanic Temple and sponsored on a 4-city tour here in the U.S. you know there’s something hitting hard here. And it is all so severely twisted and unnatural. Or is it?
The Witch is a nasty display of atmospheric evil and restraint that even the darkest of demons will gladly pay to see thrice.
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity.
Runtime: 92 mins
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Tagline: A New-England Folktale...
Memorable Movie Quote: "There is evil in the wood"
Official Site: http://a24films.com/films/witch/
Release Date: February 19, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: May 17, 2016
Synopsis: Theatrical Trailer for The Witch. New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. 'The Witch' is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.
Available on Blu-ray - May 17, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: A
The complexity and visual richness of Lionsgate's release of The Witch on blu-ray is not to be missed. The naturally lit film is especially engaging with fine details noticeable in fabrics and faces. There is an explicit fear of the dark throughout the AVC encoded 1080p transfer (presented in 1.66:1) and it is explored with deep blacks that never lose their depth or their edges. Blues and greys are the primary colors due to the subdued color scheme but when there is a hint of red, the transfer absolutely pops with gorgeous replication. The sound is brilliantly unleashed in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation that never surrenders and manages to pull off quite a bit of immersive scares.
- Proving he did his research, the film's director, Robert Eggers, provides a seriously great and knowledgeable commentary. It is a must-listen for ANYONE interested in the movie and the history surrounding it.
While fairly limited with the supplemental offerings, The Witch is a blu-ray to own. The Witch: A Primal Folktale, the first supplemental item included in the special features, is a very informative 8-minutes. Up next is a lively Q&A with Eggers and Anya Taylor-Joy at a screening in Salem. It will make you wish you had been there. A design gallery is included for the art enthusiast inside us all.
- The Witch: A Primal Folktale (8 min)
- Salem Panel Q&A (27 min)
- Design Gallery