A witch is easily recognized as one of the main mascots of Halloween, however there hasn’t been as much representation in cinema compared to others like vampires, zombies and ghosts. It’s a little odd that studios don’t attempt to utilize witches more often as when they work well they are among the best films in horror. “The Witch” is more than just an addition to the genre, but one of the decades best for its suspense and paranoia. The story is simple; a family is banished by a puritan plantation for a dispute on the teachings of christianity. During the start of their new life, the infant of the family goes mysteriously missing which causes a wave of emotions and issues within the household.
“The Witch” is definitely one of the most horrific films in recent years, but not in the general sense that modern films seem to attempt over and over again. It’s not a jumpscare film, but instead a much more chilling tale filled with dark imagery and all the more disturbing content. The use of violin and other string elements screech and crescendo to create an ambience that only fits a dark story making the audio presence just as strong as the narrative itself.
The entire cast creates a hypnotic ensemble as viewers will quickly forget they are watching a film with the authenticity kicked into high gear. Anya Taylor-Joy leads the cast as Thomasin, the eldest daughter of the family. From the moment she takes the limelight Thomasin becomes the main target not just for the viewers eyes but the moral centerpiece of the film. By that I mean she’s challenged by accusations and paranoia that emerges from the dire circumstances on top of being in solitude with her family.
Devoted to their religion, the family’s vernacular is filled with scripture and old english making the 1600’s period feel all the more genuine. This setting works as a perfect canvas to the eerie subject matter at hand. The gloomy look of the grey skies are swallowed by thick forest of barren trees.
Gradual zooms of the heavily wooded environment replace still shots, which act as a creative aid to the mind of the viewer as they create their own belief in what may be residing within the woods. Keen eyes will eat up the visual candy that might go unnoticed to the casual audience member.
It would be easy to go on and on with the film, but that would leak into spoiler territory. “The Witch” is one of those films that won’t hit the mark for everyone, but the ones who fall into the wing of horror will love it.