“The Witch,” directed by first-time director Robert Eggers, is a rarity among theatrically-released horror films. It stars mostly unknown actors; though two of them play minor characters on “Game of Thrones.” Likewise, it has hardly any gore and doesn’t rely on jump scares either. Instead, it relies more on the atmospheric and psychological sides of horror—though not to the point of overwhelming the story. For that reason, this movie (as brilliant as it may be), is not for everyone. In fact, more people would probably like the movie if it wasn’t marketed as horror.
That being said, while watching the movie, the first thing I noticed was the attention to detail. The movie, for instance, takes place in colonial times and revolves around the superstition people felt when it comes to witches at that time. Anyway, the movie started when the main family is excommunicated from their village for the crime of heresy. This ultimately led to the family building a farm on a large patch of land. Unfortunately, while the oldest daughter is playing with her newborn brother, the baby is stolen by a witch. As a result, the daughter becomes estranged from her younger twin siblings and especially their mother. Meanwhile, the woods surrounding their farm become off limits (to the mother but not to the father). Anyway, over the course of the movie, the family is routinely toyed with by the witch—prompting the family to, one by one, believe that the daughter is a witch.
In the end, I couldn’t name too much I didn’t like about this movie if I tried; though I do remember thinking a third of the way through that it would make a better novel. There were several reasons why I thought so, the least of which were it’s slower than normal pace and the aforementioned attention to detail. Beyond that, the movie relied more strongly on having a creepy story than any of the more typical horror movie tropes. This last part, no doubt, aligns it more along the lines of “Rosemary’s Baby.” Though I did feel the ending was kind of weak. Other than that, I think the one thing that could have made the movie better is to downplay the portrayal of witchcraft. Basically, I would have liked to see how this movie would have played out if all the supernatural elements were purely based on superstition (meaning, if they were all but gone from the picture). However, I still felt the movie was the only truly intelligent horror movie about witchcraft.