Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Written by: Robert Eggers
Length: 1 hour 32 minutes
Release Date: 2016
The buzz on The Witch was this was super spooky movie that was really well done. It was marketed as a horror movie, but I found nothing scary about it. I don’t necessarily need something jumping out at me. I don’t need to necessarily see the big, bad evil thing. Some of my favorite horror movies are where there is a sense of dread building for something that is terrorizing the leads in the movie. I felt this movie had none of that. There were no scares, no dread building, no spooks, and not much of anything beyond Puritan bullshit.
The overall story is about a Puritan family in 1630 New England that is shunned from their village because the father does not think the village is strict enough about its religious views. Right away you know this guy is a barrel of laughs. They go off to set up their own house and farm on their own in a clearing near some woods that freaks the family out so they usually stay away from them. There is a pre-teen daughter, her younger brother, and then the annoying twin children. There was also a baby, but when the daughter is playing peek-a-boo with the baby, he is gone one of the times she uncovers her eyes. There is no indication where the baby went, and while the audience knows the witch took it, it is the beginning of everything wrong being blamed on the daughter (and pretty much women in general). That ultimately leads to calling women evil and, of course, evil women become witches. Puritans are fun!
There was a witch in the movie and she was pretty evil. She isn’t shown all that much, but I felt no dread by her presence. I wanted to be disturbed by what she was doing, but while she is briefly shown after the baby is taken, she doesn’t affect the family for a long time. What I did find disturbing, though, was how the Puritans treated women and were so terrified of everything, that they blamed what they didn’t know or couldn’t understand on witches. That does not necessarily make this a horror movie though. That makes Puritans assholes. I felt like the witch in the title of the movie should have had more of a presence in the movie. She isn’t really around again until the very end right before the movie wraps up. I think what I would have been interested in was condensing the first three-fourths of the movie into thirty minutes and then making a longer movie about what is shown in the last 10-15 minutes of the movie. It was starting to be interesting when it was over.
I also had a hard time with the accents. The New England/Puritan accent was hard to understand at first. For the first twenty minutes, I was not completely sure what everyone was saying while I became used to their accents and their use of phrases such as, “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” I do give the film credit for recreating the Puritan era in terms of clothing, speech, and attitudes, but I was pretty bored the entire time. I kept wondering if I was missing what was going on, but based on other reviews that I had read, I didn’t miss anything. I was not scared by it like a lot of reviewers were so I am not sure what that says about me.
The one saving grace in the entire movie was Black Phillip. I chuckled to myself that they had three goats, two white ones and one black one. Only the black one had a name and why wasn’t he just Phillip? Why was he Black Phillip? It amused me so much and that was even before he became even more excellent than I could have even imagined. Black Phillip really came into his own at the end of this movie, which is really the only part that I liked and was intrigued by. This movie definitely needed more Black Phillip. I would have given it a lower score, but Black Phillip raised it up a bit for me.