Roberts Eggers directorial debut “The Witch,” made waves at last years Sundance festival, even winning a Directors award. Stylized as a “New England Folk-Tale,” the film follows a family who is exiled from their plantation for religious reasons, when a witch begins interacting with the family. The 90 minute film uses ominous music and creepy imagery to create an anxiety filled ride that horror fans will love.
After being exiled from the plantation, a puritan family makes their life on the outside of some woods, and all is fine until the infant child is taken by a witch. As the parents deal with the grief of losing their child, they also try to prepare for the winter as their farm begins to fade. The eldest daughter grapples with grief of losing the infant and also deals with the increasing tension, as the family believes she had something to do with the disappearance.
The film isn’t scary in the “pop-out” sense and doesn’t rely on gore or shock to scare the audiences, but uses the atmosphere and score to create an anxiety that fills the entire film. The film isn’t the most terrifying film to watch, but is terrifyingly creepy, and gives a fuck-ton of anxiety when watching.
The production value and dedicated cast make up for the occasional let downs of the script and the times when the dialogue was hard to follow. The set and the production itself makes the setting totally realistic and helps the anxiety set in from the gray sky and scary forest.
The cast does wonders in showing the fear and anxiety that the audience feels, and helps set in the helplessness that the era would commonly have. Anya Taylor-Joy is by-far the standout of the cast. She makes the entire movie way more engaging and makes you root for her throughout the film.
The film has it’s faults, but is one of the better horror films to come in recent years. Hopefully the trend of art-house directors taking on horror films will continue, as this and films like “It Follows” have been some of the best films of the year.