Critics got all excited about The Witch, focusing on a New England family leaving a 17th century settlement to live in the woods on their own. We tend to perk up when movies are nearly perfect.
As for mass audiences, not only did they stay away; I saw some pissed-off, freaked-out people walking out during screenings.
Now that The Witch is out on Blu-ray and available to stream, you’ll get a new chance to be spooked by strange goats, creepy kids, way-too-religious parents and baby-mulching ghosts.
In what stands as the performance of the year thus far, Anya Taylor-Joy is terrific as Thomasin, the eldest daughter of William and Katherine (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie). She and her four siblings—eldest son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), a pair of boy and girl twins, and a toddler boy—are making do in their new surroundings.
Not even 10 minutes into the movie, Thomasin loses the toddler during an innocent game of peek-a-boo. Thing is, the toddler was only a couple of feet from her face when he disappeared. This would be where that unrelenting terror I mentioned before kicks in.
Writer-director Robert Eggers gives a major shit about the details, making the costuming, props and surrounding landscapes look totally authentic. All of the performers do great work with accents, and the cinematography—done mostly with natural lighting—sets the mood.
There’s a witch in this movie, and she shows up early. She’s not a good witch at all. There are other witches, too. You will meet them along the way. You won’t like them.
Taylor-Joy, in her first major film role, delivers a breakthrough performance that will surely take her career to new levels. Scrimshaw has a possession scene that will go down in the books as one of the best since Linda Blair barfed pea soup in The Exorcist.
The movie is open to many different interpretations. My personal interpretation is as disturbing as movie interpretations get. This Eggers fellow definitely has a screw loose, and we horror fans are benefiting from it.
Special Features: There’s a brief making-of, and a question-and-answer panel after a screening featuring Eggers and Taylor-Joy (whose actual speaking voice is quite surprising). You also get a commentary with Eggers, who isn’t afraid to tell you about his dissatisfaction with particular shots and edits.