Since I first heard about The Witch early last year I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to see it. Like many people, I had to wait until it was released on DVD and Blu-ray. Finally, last night I got my chance.
Both written and directed by Robert Eggers, who I think is simply brilliant, The Witch follows a family cast out of their village in the 1630s. The family finds a plot of land to settle that is bordered by a forest, rumored to be the home of witches and dark spirits. During a game of peek-a-boo between the oldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), and her youngest sibling Samuel, the baby disappears without a trace. This is just the first of many tragic events the family is about to face. The harder their life becomes the harder they pray, but find no relief. The family begins to suspect someone among them has been tainted by evil and the main suspect is Thomasin.
I’ve heard many rave reviews about The Witch, so I had high expectations before I even pressed play. I was not disappointed. The hopelessness, the sadness of the lives of the starving family made me feel for them in every way. Eggers plays on your sympathy at every turn.
Each actor’s performance was amazing. But Anya Taylor-Joy truly shined. I was surprised by her ability to project so much pain and heartbreak at such a young age (She’s 20). Often it takes actors years to learn that, if ever. She has a very bright future ahead of her. Kate Dickie played the heartbroken, half crazed mother in such a brilliant way that if I met her character on a street in the 1600s, I would have never questioned her insanity. And dear God, Black Philip (the black goat) is terrifying. I’ve had a pet goat (her name was Precious), but after seeing this I will forever look at a black goat and wonder, even if just for a moment, if it is more than what it appears to be.
It’s rare that we see such a dead-on period-horror-thriller, but Eggers achieved what many fail to capture, the ideal blend of terror and emotion in the perfect setting. I could go on and on about The Witch, but I can sum it all up in six worlds: everything about this film is perfect. The characters, the atmosphere, everything fit together so flawlessly.
I should warn you, if you are looking for some bloody slasher film with jump scares, that’s not what this film is about. It’s sophisticated, intelligent and shines a light on the obsession with religion, superstition, and the everyday struggle of the people of that era to survive.
If you haven’t seen The Witch, I urge that you to do so immediately. It is now out on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD from A24.