The Horror Honeys: The VVitch: Baa… Baa… Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

The VVitch: Baa… Baa… Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

A Supernatural Honey New Release Review by Suzanne

The Witch (2015)

This week finally sees the wide release of a film most of the horror community has been anxiously awaiting since it began making its rounds on the film festival circuit in January of 2015. The Witch is the feature film debut of Robert Eggers. Eggers did extensive research to create a film with historical accuracy and detail. The film takes place in 1630 and is, essentially, an introduction to the religious fanaticism that is a precursor to the Salem witch trials in 1692.

The Story: Banished from their plantation over religious differences, William (Ralph Ineson), his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), and their children try to start life over in an isolated area, surrounded by an eerie forest, which the children are forbidden to enter. Trouble begins when the youngest of the children, baby Samuel, vanishes in the care of his oldest sister, Thomason (Ana Taylor-Joy), who becomes a scapegoat for the subsequent misery that befalls the family.

Katherine is a harsh, God-fearing woman, who, after Samuel’s disappearance, cries and prays for her baby’s soul, while putting the lion’s share of the responsibilities on Thomasin, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing. William defends his daughter out of his own failure to provide and protect his family, due primarily to his own pride, which he confides in his son, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw). Caleb does his best to mediate and defend both his sister and father to Katherine, as well as prove his manhood, which is ultimately his undoing.

Not unsettling at all.
Youngest siblings, Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson), seem to be unfazed by the events, spending their time acting out and consorting with the family goat, Black Phillip, whom they claim speaks to them. They also are the first to accuse Thomasin of witchcraft.

There are no real moments of levity to break the atmosphere, which gets increasingly darker as the movie progresses. The rejection of the family at the opening is just the beginning. Touching on themes of mortality, sexual awakening, temptation, possession, and mental illness, from the perspective of William and Katherine, everything they are experiencing is due to a lack of faith.

The Witch is visually stunning. Eggers uses a soft, muted color palette, enhancing the already somber tone of the film and giving it an almost dreamlike quality. Add in Mark Korven’s imposing score and it envelopes you. Some standout scenes include William, clad only in a sheet, chopping wood, evoking a very Christ-like image. Another moment, where the family is having a meager meal together, appears to be the director’s interpretation of The Last Supper.

There is an ambiguity to the film making it somewhat uncertain as to whether the shocking things we do see, such as what happens to baby Samuel, are real or in the imaginations of William and Katherine, fueling their paranoia. The ending, which is the film’s weakest moment, is unnecessary and serves to further blur the line between fantasy and reality.

The potential issue with the The Witch garnering any praise from general audiences will be due to the buildup surrounding it. Like The Babadook, which had similar hype after its success at film festivals, it didn’t live up to its reputation with a lot of horror fans who expected something less cerebral and more obvious. Another setback could be the dialogue. While historically accurate, it will likely be an issue for some, as will the English dialect. It’s a slow-paced film that is ripe with unsettling imagery and fantastic performances, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Supernatural Honey rating: 4 evil goats out of 5
The only thing that looks good on me is Satan.

Have you seen The Witch?
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