Very few films have unnerved me the way I was unnerved by The Witch. Robert Eggers has proven that he has what it takes to be counted among the horror greats with this film, which gives audiences a look at the unnatural horrors that reside in the woods outside a Puritan homestead. Eggers treats the setting and characters with great respect, using actual dialogue from actual recounts from the New England settlers of the 1600's who claimed to have suffered similar horrors. This is a piece of American history that seems so far away and alien that creating a horror film from it allows the human imagination to go in wild directions.
The cast is all superb, with every actor giving a very strong performance that convinced me of their 1600's Puritan faith. The creepiest thing about the film is how difficult it is to separate reality from paranoia and how quickly your own family can turn on you with the threat of Lucifer in the air. Most of the unsettling atmosphere this film creates is owed to the unbelievable terrifying score by Mark Korven. The music in The Witch is the real star. Without it, this film wouldn't have been nearly as scary.
The Witch proved that horror films can be great enough to win festival awards and gain serious attention, something I've believed for years but very few people ever consider. It's one of the most frightening films I've seen in a long time because it's almost too real. It feels like this actually happened. I feel like this film is something hardcore horror fans have been waiting for for a long time. Scary things happen in the woods, after all.
With each passing year, there is a new film in the horror genre being touted as the next movie that will scare the living daylights out of us. This year, The Witch took that honor. After having a successful run in the festival circuit, it was quickly given a wide release. Because of this, I had a chance to see it and can attest to the praise it has received. This is a deeply unsettling film fueled by a family's paranoia, religious practices, and a little bit of witchcraft. Not bad for a film debut by writer/director Robert Eggers.
Before I really dig into what I liked about this film so much, I much warn those looking for a fast paced, jump scares a minute horror film, this is not that film. The Witch is a slow burn that takes the time for the viewer to connect with the family before things really spin out of control. The film is also heavily drenched in atmosphere and tension, with every moment feeling like something bad is about to happen. The actors do a phenomenal job with these characters. They all really do an excellent job of portraying a family which is slowly falling apart. I also have to applaud them for using the actual New England dialect of that time. While it lead to some moments of dialogue that was hard to understand, it gave the film a much more authentic and realistic feel. As for the title character itself, there were several memorable terrifying moments. As for one in particular, let's just say I won't be trusting black sheep for a long time. Finally, the music for this film was out of this world horrifying. Very rarely has a horror film score make me feel so unsettled.
The Witch definitely lives up to the hip as this year's big horror film. It's a slow burn that becomes more scary as it progresses. The actors give strong performances and writer/director Robert Eggers takes full advantage of the time period. This will surely go down as a classic someday and, hopefully, start a new horror trend. Based off this, witches can be terrifying.