MOVIE REVIEW: “The Witch” stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Split, Morgan), Ralph Ineson (Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), Kate Dickie (Prometheus, Red Road), Harvey Scrimshaw (Oranges and Sunshine, Adult Life Skills), Elle Grainger (The Village [TV series], Coronation Street [TV series]), and Lucas Dawson. It is written and directed by Robert Eggers (The Tell-Tale Heart [Short], Brothers [Short]). Banished from their community due to religious differences, a family in 1630s New England make a home of their own in the middle of the woods, only to be cursed by a witch.
In light of Halloween, it only makes sense to watch a scary flick. For some random reason, “The Witch” was my choice. Well, actually… the reason might not be so random after all. Robert Eggers, the director of this piece, recently dropped “The Lighthouse,” a highly anticipated indie flick starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Like everyone else, I’m excited to go see it, and thought that watching another one of his films would get me in the headspace of how he works. What I came to realize is, Eggers has a pretty crazy mind. Against a beautiful backdrop of old New England pilgrim times, Eggers crafts a story of a family banished from their community and seeking prosperity in a curse-filled area. Outside of this description, not much else can really be explained. I mean, sure there are moments I can dive into, however if you haven’t seen the flick I won’t get into the nitty gritty. What’s the commend Eggers for with this film is it’s scope. The cinematography is gorgeous, the production design is incredible, and the dialogue is intricately wonderful. It’s so true to its background that you feel like you’ve stepped into another time. Everyone speaks Old English and the actors really play into it well. Speaking of which, the performances are amazing. I only recognized two actors in this flick (Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Ineson), but everyone did terrific. It all felt natural and surreal, especially as the film escalated to its horrifying conclusion. Whether you can follow the dialogue or not, this movie is engaging. I was sucked in from the get-go and was curious to see where this rabbit hole led me, and man did it take me down some crazy directions. There’s a lot of brutality and pain that goes into the story of “The Witch,” but more so on a spiritual/mental level than anything. I was surprised to see just how rooted this story was in religious themes, as the family itself are strong believers in Jesus. They’re journey is tough to watch, making for a rather depressing experience in and of itself. If you’re into features that are mysterious and foreboding, this is something for you. While there isn’t a lot of jump scares, the film is crafted in a way that puts you on the edge of your seat for extended periods of time. You never know when the string will snap or the tension will be released. Really, it’s just a waiting game (or rather, a “watching it all burn” game). The biggest issue I see with this movie though, is it’s ending. Much like “Hereditary,” I loved the film up until it’s last act, where things take a turn for the worst. While I don’t expect horrors to end sweetly, the ends don’t justify the means with this one. It doesn’t take a sharp turn like “Hereditary.” There were hints as to where this film was headed in the beginning, but the way that everything wrapped up left me empty. If there’s anything I don’t care much for, it’s movies that show a terrible event with no lesson to be shared. Why did this family go through what they did? Why did things end the way they did for this family? Toss in some demonic and ritualistic stuff, and you’ve lost me. Sorry, it isn’t my cup of tea. If it’s yours, you’ll enjoy this piece as a whole. As for me, I’d say it’s a fantastically crafted feature that should’ve led down a different path. Watching this family struggle, only to see it end the way it did made for a disappointing experience. I love the dialogue, cinematography, and performances; they’re certainly inspirational when crafting my own pieces of film. But that can’t help the route this story took. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: