It’s nearly a week after I’ve seen The Witch. I’m sitting in a slightly busy coffee shop on a bright and sunny day in the Bay Area. Yet, despite being awakened by fresh coffee and happy music, I’m still terrified by the images that were cast upon the screen in Robert Eggers’ directorial debut. It haunts me as I reflect back on what I’ve seen.
There have been a few different horror films that have surfaced this year. They’ve been alright. A few jump moments here and there, some disturbing images, but nothing insane. When the trailer for The Witch first made its appearance on the Internet, I kept an eye out for it, but I wasn’t truly horrified by it. This is the brilliance of it. This is a film that I refer to as a non-formulaic horror film. There aren’t cheesy jump moments; there are some minor ones, but that’s not where the horror lies within The Witch. No, the horror lies within the build up of the scare, the slow introduction of the scene, and that feeling of “oh shit, they didn’t really just do that? Did they?”
A Puritan family in the seventeenth century leaves their civil New England town in order to live a life anew in the New England wilderness. Remember that this is a time when technology didn’t exist (yes kids, that’s a fact). Shit starts happening that makes the family question what’s going on, but of course we know the truth: the baby goes missing, the goat’s milk is blood, two of the children start to act rather…odd.
The tone of the entire film is dark, from the look of the film, to the horrifying music build-ups, all the way to what happens to the characters throughout the story as they come face to face with their troubles. The script is brilliant in the sense that it was accurately and thoroughly researched so that the characters speak in a true (or as close as you can get) seventeenth century dialect.
This is one of the biggest strengths of The Witch. Whether you are terrified by it or not, Robert Eggers knows how to completely immerse you in a story and bring you along for the ride, all the way to its utterly chilling conclusion.
The Witch opens in theaters TODAY. For movie information and box office show times, visit www.fandango.com.
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