After a long time of waiting because I missed the movie in the theater, I finally watched the critically acclaimed horror movie, The Witch. The film is about a religious christian family in New England who are abandoned from the village for being overly religious. They move to a cottage next to the woods and try to live on the limited resources provided by nature. After the family baby, Samuel, goes missing, everyone in the family assumes many ideas about where and why Samuel may have disappeared. The twin kids claim to be able to talk to a black sheep in the barn, Philip, who tells them their elder sister, Thomasin, is a witch. The mother believes that the woods are evil and bringing suffering to the family. The father is filled with guilt about bringing the family to live in such desperate circumstances. There is a lot of pointing fingers, everyone questioning each other’s faith and accusing the other of consorting with the Devil. Things start falling apart, family members disappearing one by one, and at one point you start doubting yourself about what’s real and what’s not.
It’s very dark. And I mean both metaphorically and literally. The film has got a grey colour scheme which lends it an eerie, broody, somber undercurrent throughout. The setting of the woods is daunting with tall trees that watch every move of their new neighbours and hide the ugly truth beyond. The Old English language and accent used in the film are rather hard to understand and there were many times when I had to rewind the film to listen to the dialogues again. The costumes and language successfully adds authenticity to the time period which may have been hard to achieve with just the natural settings of the movie.
The script is very clever and deals with the themes of faith, suspicion, superstition and family in a delicate, subdued manner while keeping the haunted feeling of a horror film intact. It shows what strong, obsessive faith is capable of as the characters desperately try to show their sincerity towards God. In fact, it is not a mythological creature but the results of this obsessiveness and superstition of all characters that is meant to scare the audience. The film reminds us of a time when superstitions among people were so strong that they overtook family love.
This is an unusual horror movie with an unusual setting that has no jump scares or gory horror to scare you. Instead, it plays with your mind introducing various perspectives, themes and possibility of a traditionally scary mythical creature at different stages of the movie. You may not find it scary at all in fact. But its thrilling nonetheless. And you will not regret watching it.