On Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2015)

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by Kayann Mitchell

My anticipation for this film knew no bounds. I caught its scent in January 2015 after its debut at The Sundance Film Festival where it won rave reviews from critics and fans alike. I HAD to be a part of the groundswell of appreciation for what was seemingly a groundbreaking new entry in the horror genre. Which lets face it is painfully rare in a world of endless Paranormal Activity sequels and Insidious knock offs. This seemed to be the balm to an ache I didnt know I had.

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The film opens with William (Ralph Ineson) a pious and officious pilgrim being judged by his village elders for what seems to be his piety and unyielding adherence to the good word. He appears to be driving the other pilgrims batshit with his holier than thou demeanor, which get him and wife Katherine (Katie Dickie), daughters Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and sons Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), Jonas (Lucas Dawson) and baby William cast out of ye olde homestead to fend for themselves in the middle of the woods. This is where things take a potentially sinister turn when under the care of Thomasin, baby William disappears without a trace. This is an act that sets into motion a series of events that wither and tear this hard working family to pieces.

This is all I am going to say about the plot. You wanna know? Get your asses off of your sofas and see it for yourselves! Which I HIGHLY recommend y’all do! Seriously! What Robert Eggers et al have accomplished with this minimalist feature debut is, to my jaded senses, nothing short of a genre miracle. Using the environment, language, and heaps of paranoia and suspicion to build a genuinely frightening and tense little film Eggers left me smiling like the cat that ate the cream by its denouement.

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But heed my meagre warning! If you are looking for something fast and full of jump scares and over powering musical queues you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This film is a slow burn, content with slowly teasing the fear from you rather than bitch-slapping you in the face with its message. It’s brilliantly done. I left the theatre with a tiny knot of trepidation building in my stomach that has only dissipated with the use of an Ativan. It’s THAT good. I really can’t sing its praises loud enough and I probably won’t stop doing so for some time to come.

People please ensure that Mr. Eggers gets a chance to direct a retelling of Nosferatu by giving this film a go this weekend. Don’t worry, Deadpool will forgive you! Trust me.

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