The Witch (2016)


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The Witch – horror film review

I was pretty excited to see The Witch – aka ‘The VVitch A New England Folklore’. I’d heard good things about it and knew it was a bit different – not the usual format where kids draw crayon pictures of ghosts and a cat can frighten its owner by hiding next to the refrigerator.

The story, set in 1630, centers around a Puritan family banished from their plantation. They set up home miles away on the edge of a creepy forest and at first, though isolated, they seem to be doing okay. But after their baby mysteriously vanishes and their crops begin to fail, the religious family blame witchcraft and and begin to turn on one another.

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This film won’t be for everyone. I knew from the (fucking annoying) whispers and giggles in the cinema that many people (who I wanted to maim and kill) weren’t enjoying it.

The main reason for this perhaps is that the film is atmospheric. Well I enjoyed it so I call it atmospheric. People that don’t will call it boring. And the characters speak in oldy worldy language which does take getting used to, but adds to the authentic feel of the story. Interestingly, most of the dialogue was taken from real life journals and accounts from that time.

Though The Witch isn’t a jumpy film, nor hugely gory (it has its moments), it is fairly horrible. There was a constant feeling of dread and I’m certain every dynamic of family life  (not just the witchcraft and evil bits) were written to screw with our minds. It’s the kind of movie you watch with a mildly horrified look on your face but in a GOOD WAY, not in a Movie 43 way.

A dark cloud looms over the family from the very beginning. And though the witchy bits are scary (make no mistake about it), the way the family are with each other is equally disturbing.

The acting was brilliant, no big names but I’m pretty sure the mum was/is in Game of Thrones and hilariously the dad was played by Finchy from The Office (any fans of The Office will find this amusing trust me). But for the record – he was great. I never even imagined him talking about kettles and pubs or throwing kettles over pubs.

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The children were all good too, especially the eldest daughter. And something must be said about the score, written by Mark Korven. I like scores anyway but this one really grabbed me, it was freaky! Truly bloodcurdling and the great thing about a creepy score is that you can’t close your ears.

The Witch did play on my mind a little, later that night (always a good sign) and I’m looking forward to a re-watch in the near future. I admired its ability to be different and original and I thought the writing, direction, acting and score were all really, really good. Not to mention the constant tension and generally screwed up feel.

Though it wasn’t the scariest film ever and if anything I would have enjoyed a few more in-your-face scary bits because when they were there, they were bloody good. But the dark atmosphere and ‘feeling of dread’ was present throughout and to be fair, it’s harder to achieve that than cheap tactic scares anyway. Not that I have anything against cheap tactic scares, generally I do quite like them. What can I say, I’m obviously a philistine.

But if you’re a fan of horror movies then this is a must watch. I’ve seen a million horror movies but still never witnessed anything quite like The Witch. And if you enjoy historical films or fiction then I’d highly recommend it. Yes it’s a horror film, but it’s a genuine horror film that takes care to do its New England folk tale justice.

I think writer/director Robert Eggers must have said “okay, let’s give them a real experience of 17th century family life, religion and witchcraft accusations”.

And he did just that.

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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80 Responses to The Witch (2016)

  1. Cici says:

    I like anything with witches meaning there is high chance of me watching it, even though it is lacking the in your face gore I enjoy.
    Fantastic review. I felt like I watched the movie through reading this!
    PS: I hate The Office. Hehe!

  2. Great review Ems! Really looking forward to seeing this.

  3. I’m a huge fan of horror movies.. it was a must-be-pissed-I-paid-for-this-shite movie for me hahahahaha Grade: F 16th century religious rhetoric is not my idea of scary. I don’t like gore, so at least they didn’t have that!! I was bummed after all the hype it got.. :/ oh well.. not all films are for everyone!!

    • emmakwall says:

      Aww, that’s a shame Peggy! I’m not hugely shocked though, have read quite a few reviews where people didn’t like it. Like you say, not all films are for everyone!! I currently can’t wait to see High Rise and 10 Cloverfield Lane 🙂 what’s on your watch list?

      • 10 Cloverfield is SOOOOOO good.. but don’t read about it or find out about it before you go.. it’s best if you know nothing going in.. truly..trust me on this..It’s the kinda scary movie I love!!! I think you will really like it!! 😀 High Rise doesn’t come out here till May..but speaking of Tom Hiddleston..hahahaha I’m seeing a screening of “I Saw the Light” tonight..so I’m in for that. After that I’ve got some screenings next week of War Boys, The Boss, Demolition & something else..I can’t remember..ha! again..rush to see Cloverfield..RUN!! 😀

        • emmakwall says:

          I trust you on that 🙂 I’ve even stopped watching trailers for it because I seemed to be seeing more and more of the movie and I don’t want to see any of it until I watch it!!!! 😀

          I’m running now….!!!! I will try and watch it over the next few days, will let you know what I thought (that it’s awesome no doubt!)

  4. Pingback: CRUISIN’ ROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE | epileptic moondancer

  5. Jordan Dodd says:

    Great review Em! That constant feeling of dread was fantastic, this is the most atmospheric flick I have ever seen

    • emmakwall says:

      Thank you EMMMMMM’KAY!!! I was most excited to watch this after reading your terrific review and that’s the truth 🙂

      How’s Brutus?

      • Jordan Dodd says:

        Brutus is great, thanks 🙂

        Summer is just ending, which means he has stopped licking his paws from allergies. It is SUUUUCH a relief, for the last 5 months I’ve had to put one of those lampshade looking things over his head so he doesn’t wreck his paws 😦 But thankfully that phase is gone for another year – BRING ON WINTER! 😀

        • emmakwall says:

          I’m more of a winter person too, which is lucky living in England! Ha ha. Oh do you have a picture of Brutus in his lampshade?! I bet he looked so cute!!! Poor Brutus though, all itchy paws 😦

          How’s you Jordy’kay?

  6. Excellent write-up Emma! I can’t wait to see this!

  7. J. says:

    Hadn’t heard of this one until a few weeks ago. Fairly interested in it, so will likely be checking it out at some point.

  8. Your last 2 lines of the review really sum up the film best. Wonderful review 🙂

  9. The Vern says:

    Great review Emmy and Im glad you like this movie. It does have a good style and the acting is good, but I was just bored through the whole thing. Mainly because I did not care one ounce about this family before they lost their kid and I cared even less about them when they did. The score was good but it seemed to be just recycled from other horror movies I have already seen before. It’s great that it was different and I hope this trend continues but I didn’t care much about this one. I’m sorry and I know im in the minority with my thoughts

    • emmakwall says:

      That’s okay Verny! I always value and appreciate everything you have to say 🙂

      You’re not in the minority exactly and I do understand what you’re saying! I would have liked a few more in-your-face scary bits as well, I was hoping for slightly more scares I must admit.

      I did giggle at your “mainly because I did not care one ounce about this family before they lost their kid and I cared even less about them when they did” – LOL! 🙂

      I did really like the score, I agree it was reminiscent of other horror films but it was pretty darn classic and super fucking freaky Verny!!!! 🙂

      There were moments that a little bit more could have happened, I do agree with that.

  10. beetleypete says:

    I have heard mixed reviews, but yours is the best! I will avoid the multiplex, with its ‘chattering chavs’, and watch it quietly, on DVD sometime in the future. If you liked that, have you seen this?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible_(1996_film) It’s not bad.
    As ever, Pete. xxx (That extra one is becoming a fixture…)

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks Pete! High praise indeed 🙂

      Yes this film definitely won’t be for everyone. It’s fairly odd and unique, but I thought it was good, could have been A BIT scarier though 🙂 I’ve had so many spooky films ruined for me in the cinema, teenagers love going to watch them, but don’t love ‘watching’ them!!

      I will get to yesterday’s comment in a mo, but I can’t resist asking how was dinner last night?! And did you have a nice birthday? 🙂

      It is becoming VERY regular 🙂 xxx

      • beetleypete says:

        It was a full day of birthday celebration. Present opening, followed by a delicious sausage sandwich for breakfast. Then off to the beach, bright and sunny, but cold. Followed by tea in a swanky hotel at Holkham, with tasty carrot cake. The local pub where we went to eat last night was good, and we have been there before. I had a beef and guinness pie, washed down with a bottle of Merlot.
        A pretty good way to celebrate 64 years. xxx

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