The Witch (2015)3:43 PM
A New-England Folktale
The Witch is the feature length directorial and writing debut from Robert Eggers - Eggers is previously known for being a production designer and writing and directing short films. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Professional Extra Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie (Prometheus, Red Road) and Harvey Scrimshaw. The Witch is the first feature length film from its director and features a lot of unknown talent - is this going to be an amateur mess or does this film spotlight a talented group of people - behind and in front of the camera?
The Witch is a very disturbing yet effective horror film. In my opinion, at a first glance The Witch falls into the same category as films like The Babadook and It Follows - they have all been critically acclaimed but have split audiences. I liked The Babadook but disliked It Follows - I honestly thought I wasn't going to like this film as the trailer was interesting but there was something about it that suggested it could be quite dull and boring.
The Witch may been seen as dull and boring to some as it is a very slow burn. However, with a running time of just 90 minutes, I didn't mind the slow pace of this film as throughout there were plenty of moments that kept your attention. The Witch is similar to The Babadook and It Follows in the way that it doesn't rely on jump scares - the ones it does have towards the end are effective and I think all of the intended jump scares work. The Witch feels like a very professional and high quality horror film which is surprising as it is the directors first feature length film. Eggers has done a fantastic job. I can understand why this film is likely to divide audiences but I found qualities about it that were very good.
One of the things that I always appreciate in a film is its mood and tone setting. Sicario and Ex Machina were both very good in setting the tones they were aiming for and I think The Witch does a very good job as well. The soundtrack for this film added to the horror as it was uncomfortable to listen to by itself - it didn't matter if the shot was just of some trees, the scene still felt quite scary and tense. One of the best things about this film is the soundtrack as I think for some, it turns what would be quite a slow and dull film into quite a tense, psychological film that will only be effective if you immerse yourself in the world of the film.
The story for The Witch is pretty interesting. It is inspired by a folktale and it really did have an 'old scary story around the campfire' feel to it. I think it was interesting to see the breakdown of the family and how these strange occurrences were affecting them. Even though the audience see The Witch quite early on in the film, it was interesting to see the family pin point each other at who it could be. The dialogue was also pretty interesting and felt quite Shakespearean in some parts. Eggers can direct well as well as write well. The film does lose its way in the last 10 minutes and just becomes a little weird and supernatural - a theme that wasn't hinted at throughout. However, this was still quite uncomfortable to sit through and was shocking. The Witch is a very disturbing film and there are numerous moments throughout where you just want to look away but can't - it doesn't feel like you should be allowed to watch such scenes. I won't spoil what these scenes are but this adds to the discomforting tone the film has.
The Witch is acted very strongly. I think everyone in this film is a discovered treasure. Anya Taylor-Joy led the film incredibly well and was just excellent to watch. I don't understand why Ralph Ineson always gets extra-type roles in his films as he really showcases his talent here - he was fantastic! I was incredibly impressed with Harvey Scrimshaw who is quite a young actor but really shows believable emotion and he has a scene that you wouldn't think a young actor would be able to execute so well! The child actors who play the twins were also very good - once again, child actors do not live up to their bad reputation!
The Witch may be the most effective film of the year so far in terms of mood and tone setting. The score really helps to create tension and what is happening on screen can be so disturbing at times, you just can't help wanting to look away. Eggers has done a fantastic job and so have the cast who all put on incredible performances. The only faults with The Witch lie in the last 10 minutes and that you occasionally do feel the slow pace. The Witch is for an acquired taste but if you love the horror genre and well made films - this one is for you.
What did you think of THE WITCH? Could you tolerate its slow pace? - COMMENT BELOW
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