Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Written and directed by Robert Eggers (in his debut), The Witch is set in Puritan New England (before the Salem witch trials). A family, led by the pious Ralph Ineson, is banished from what is presumably Plymouth Plantation for a disagreement in Biblical interpretation. He takes his family and heads out on his own, building a house and attempting to grow corn.
Things start to go wrong when the eldest child (Anya Taylor-Joy) is out playing with the baby when he disappears. They think it must be a wolf (at least there are no dingos in North America) but we see that some sort of hag has grabbed the baby and--well, I won't say anymore.
The corn crop fails. Two of the children, twins, say that they converse with Black Phillip, a goat. Inesen and his eldest son (Harvey Scrimshaw) go hunting and encounter a rabbit, who is the scariest bunny since the one in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. When Scrimshaw and Taylor-Joy go out in the woods, like Hansel and Gretel, Scrimshaw ends up in a scene not unlike the one that happens in Room 237 in The Shining.
All the while, the family unit breaks down. Inesen turns out to be a hypocrite, the children turn on each other, and the goat turns on Inesen. The mother, Kate Dickie, sees her dead children and nurses her missing baby, but in reality it's something far more sinister and an image that can't be unseen.
Historically, except for the fact that true witches are not in league with Satan, The Witch is accurate. As I mentioned in my review of I Married a Witch, the very notion of witches being scary is anti-woman. There are witches, or Wiccans, and when I attended Unitarian Church I met a few. I imagine they wouldn't appreciate a movie like this, but it is a damn good horror film.