By Emanuel Ortiz
Director Robert Eggers’ horror mystery The Witch is set in the 1600’s and revolves around a family cast out of their village. When they build their own home right outside the woods, mysterious things happen. After their newborn child gets mysteriously taken away, the family starts to tear themselves apart from the inside. They start to suspect witchcraft is involved and this fear leads them to turn on each other.
Although this movie builds suspense with creepy images and metaphors, it doesn’t want to make you cry to your friends asking them to keep you company at night. The Witch is not for all horror fans. Instead of relying on cheap jump scares to frighten audiences, it builds suspense to create an eerie environment that will leave the audience wanting more. This desire for more comes from the what I felt was a lack of payoff. The suspense kept building throughout the movie but I didn’t feel as though there was that final punch to make me think “wow this is what everything led up to.”
The atmosphere Egger creates with the family is dark and at times disturbing. The movie uses a variety of creepy images. Thinking about the movie after it’s over will only increase one’s appreciation for all the little nods and metaphors throughout. The Witch uses a ton of metaphors revolving around sin and the temptations that the family faces. The movie gives a deeper and richer understanding with subsequent views. Watching with a friend so that you have someone to throw opinions off of is another way of getting the most out of this movie. You two will leave discussing what happened and what exactly it meant hours later. I was personally floored with how much I discovered about the movie later while talking with a friend.
The actors in this family do a fantastic job of portraying what it would be like to live in this time period along with the dialogue used. The clothing used and the environment really made you feel as though you were in the setting they were in as well which was only emphasized with the dialogue used. The dialogue is very Shakespearean with phrases like “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” which really makes you feel like you’re watching a period piece. For the child actors as well, they did a fantastic job hitting those emotional beats and really nailed the difficult words this time period used and giving off an attraction. On the other hand, Ralph Ineson who plays the father in the movie is often hard to understand. One such example would be when he was talking to his wife about their child and how strange everything has been recently. The lines were mumbled and I couldn’t make out what he was saying for that scene. I got the gist of it from the one or two lines that I did understand.
Like mentioned above, The Witch might not please all horror fans. This movie is more about psychological horror rather than jump scares which many audience members are looking forward to. That being said, the movie does a great job of doing so because of the dark atmosphere it creates but this suspense doesn’t live up to the expectation it creates.
Like all movies, there are negatives to them. I would have loved to see more time added to the movie because of how engrossed I was in it. I wanted to know more and more about what REALLY happened here. I was quite disappointed that it ended the way it did. The ending sort of took at the suspense and let it drain out instead of delivering a punch to the audience that would have really gotten our attention. It might have been expectations, but I was thinking all this suspense would lead up to a moment with “The Witch” that has been teased this entire movie. However, this moment never comes and the suspense just dies off. If the runtime was 2 hours instead of the 90 minute it was, I think this could have been a better film.
I enjoyed the mother and father throughout the movie but didn’t like where they ended up in the third act. There is a scene towards the end of the movie when the mother and father confront their daughter about being a witch and I thought “oh I guess that happened” because it didn’t really impact me or satisfy me the way I wanted it to. The suspense like mentioned earlier, led me to believe something greater was going to occur so when this scene towards the end happens with the father and mother, it was sort of a letdown.
One last nitpick I had with the film was the color choice. This movie was almost entirely grey/black. They most likely decided on this approach to show the depressing difficulties this family faced and set this dark atmosphere for the movie but as the movies progressed, I would have liked to see more colors thrown in. The grey and black colors made the movie seem rather dull at times and could have used color to give some scenes more life. This was a smaller complaint but something that ultimately stood out as the movie progressed.
I would highly recommend checking out The Witch. Just know what you’re getting into when watching this movie. If you go in thinking this is going to be scared out of your mind, then you’re going to be let down. However, if you go in thinking this will be a family drama with some horror elements, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised.