The Witch – USA, 2015

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‘Evil takes many forms’

The Witch – stylized as The VVitch – is a 2015 American-Canadian horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers, who also helmed 2008 Poe-based short The Tell-Tale Heart and is now slated to direct the upcoming Nosferatu remake.

The film premiered at the Sundance Festival in January 2015, where Eggars took the prize for Best Director.

In the US, it was distributed by A24 and went on to take $35,725,247 worldwide against a budget of $1 million.

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Main cast:

Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger and Julian Richings.

Plot:

1630, New England: A farmer is cast out of his colonial plantation and is forced to move his family to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest that is rumoured to be controlled by witches.

Almost immediately, strange and unsettling things begin to happen – the animals turn violent, the crops fail, and one of the children disappears, only to return seemingly possessed by an evil spirit.

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As suspicion and paranoia mount, everyone begins to point the finger at teenage daughter Thomasin. They accuse her of witchcraft, which she adamantly denies. However, as circumstances become more and more treacherous, each family member’s faith, loyalty, and love will be tested in shocking and unforgettable ways…

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Buy Blu-ray | DVD: Amazon.co.uk

Reviews:

” … a very interesting, evocative, at times haunting, and undeniably effective slice of genre filmmaking. If you go in with sky-high expectations you may feel slightly let down, sure — but if you go in with none, chances are you’ll walk away from it very impressed.” Ryan C., Trash Film Guru

“A fiercely committed ensemble and an exquisite sense of historical detail conspire to cast a highly atmospheric spell in The Witch, a strikingly achieved tale of a mid-17th-century New England family’s steady descent into religious hysteria and madness.” Justin Chang, Variety

“Eggers’s film is altogether stranger and more challenging to conventional genre tastes. Set among a family of Puritan exiles in the wilderness of unmolested New England as strange and ominous forces beset them, The Witch often looks more like historical realism than horror.” Jack Cole, Slant

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The Witch is expertly directed with a hysterical score, beautiful production design and wicked performances from its central cast. Truly spine-chilling when at its most ambiguous, it only stumbles slightly in its final scene.” Peter Turner, Starburst

” … a knockout in terms of visual flair and dread-filled potency. Kate Dickie is flat-out superb as a mother on the edge, Ralph Ineson conveys the confused emotions of a stern but vulnerable patriarch who tries to do right by his family, and the aforementioned Taylor-Joy turns in a pitch perfect and dedicated performance.” Katherine McLaughlin, The List

“Though the film contains some genuinely terrifying sequences, much of its overwhelming sense of spookiness comes from what isn’t seen on the screen, along with the tension that inevitably results when the family pits their unbending Puritan outlook against the merciless power of Mother Nature. And Black Phillip, the family’s goat, will put you off petting zoos for the rest of your life.” David Fear, Rolling Stone

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The Witch is bargain basement Terence Malick crossed with a Roman Polanski wannabe and dollops of half-baked Bergman, but worse yet, is not unlike lower-drawer M. Night Shyamalan. That, my friends, is truly chilling.” Greg Klymkiw, Electric Sheep

“Anyone who spoils the ending deserves anguish in eternal fire, but I will say The Witch is one of those very satisfying films whose conclusion somehow manages to be surprising but feel altogether perfect. This movie may be too slow and verbose to be the next breakout horror hit, but its focus on themes over plot is what elevates it to something near greatness.” Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

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Buy Blu-ray or DVD: Amazon.com

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“It would be inaccurate to call The Witch simply a horror movie. While the film is bound to be a hit with the indie genre crowd, this is a movie that should transcend that group. Arthouse and festival goers are sure to want to sign the book for The Witch as well – as long as they don’t mind a few scares along the way.” Ryland Aldrich, Twitch

“Some scenes look as pitiless and stark as a Michael Haneke composition, others as lush with magic as a Jan Pieńkowski silhouette. The effect is supremely disquieting – not least in the film’s wild, divisive and (I think) exquisite finale – and it reflects the veins of anxiety running through the core The Witch, about women, children, spirituality and America’s founding myths.” Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

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“Egger’s visual assurance too is astounding. The period details are spot-on, while various tableaux suggest this director has learned all the right lessons from Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Neil Jordan’s A Company of Wolves.” Charlotte O’Sullivan, Evening Standard

The Witch strives to unsettle, to disturb, to alarm-not to shock its audience with its events. If you’re looking for Insidious or Paranormal Activity, you won’t find it here in the chilling elements Eggers uses. It won’t please everyone, but moviegoer who likes to be creeped out, this quality film will both impress and chill you to the bone.” Alison Slowski, Voices from the Balcony

Cast and characters:

  • Anya Taylor-Joy … Thomasin
  • Ralph Ineson … William – The Boy 2
  • Kate Dickie … Katherine
  • Harvey Scrimshaw … Caleb
  • Lucas Dawson … Jonas
  • Ellie Grainger … Mercy
  • Julian Richings … Governor
  • Bathsheba Garnett … The Witch

Technical credits:

92 minutes | 1.66: 1

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