Film Review

The Witch: A Review by Nate Hill 

 The Witch offers up an oppresively freaky folktale that still manages to go for broke with demented and disturbing stuff, whilst still keeping it moody and reigned in in equal measure, walking an admirable tightrope with style on one side, substance on the other. The substance lies in the interpersonal relationships between a hapless New England pioneer family trying to hack it alone in the land, living next to a deep dark forest that serves home to the titular cretin, plaguing their existence at every turn. The style lies in that forest, as well as a musical score that kwill shake your bones up and then some, accenting a tale of religious dread, insidious distrust and primal paranoia in a time before reason had grasped humanity, it seems. Plus there’s a big scary fucking goat called Black Philip who seems sentient, which was enough to give me the creepin willies. The family is booted from a plantation for some vague religious politics involving the haughty patriarch (Ralph Ineson is excellently fervent and riled up). Tryon to start a homestead on their own proves to be one nightmare after another out there though, especially when virginal daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor Joy, a striking beauty) loses the young baby during a split second game of peekaboo on the outskirts of the forest. Things go depressingly downhill from there as the collective sanity of this clan starts to evaporate into feverish mania, while the woods and the witch constantly loom over everything. The dialogue is all period specific which helps with authenticity, and as far as atmosphere goes, you practically drown in it, quite an achievement really. I took quite a long time in getting to see this, and I didn’t quite expect then level of literal horror on display. I was thinking it’d be more unseen, metaphorical, slow paced. It really does mean witch though, as well as that nasty damn goat. You’ll watch your back at the petting zoo after sitting through this one. Well done. 

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