Baby bloodbaths, black goats, satanic wenches, and much more, The Witch is a chilling entry in the horror genre, one that paints a saving grace upon it, never reliant on jump-scares, The Witch is a terrifying film. Honestly, after watching the film, at this point I’m more scared of Robert Eggers as a human being than the film itself. Just the research he had to do to get this project off the ground, plus the way he filmed this, implementing his fixation on the macabre, Robert Eggers is a great director who is able to use his grand knowledge of satanic folklore to tell a such a morbid story under such a special light of perfectly captured horror.
Like The Conjuring, The Witch marks another grand entry into the horror genre, something we rarely find nowadays, although we’ve got Raw, The Neon Demon, and Transfiguration to look for out of Cannes. Yet there’s something about The Conjuring I love and that when you’re going to talk about it with another person, all you need to do is clap and they’ll be freaked out, the same can be said about this film, because if you “Baa, baa” at something who just watched The Witch they are very likely to run away from you. No jokes aside, Black Phillip is a horrid enigma who remains silent for the majority of the film as a manipulative figure in the background, but when he springs into action its uncanny to feel such horror.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say, above all, The Witch is a period piece and a character-piece, and that the title refers to that specific character, thus you do get to see the witch a lot, but you never get to see her tune into her dark side, not until the end . That’s all I’ll say, apart from mentioning that The Witch never let me down in any way because even though you don’t get to see the witch in action that much you have a plethora of bone-chilling, uncomfortably scary sequences, whether that be exorcisms, getting lost in the woods, old scary women, plus Ralph Ineson’s deep, commanding voice. But what shines here, is the level of unpredictability and an exorcism scene that I might nominate as one of the best exorcism scenes ever put to screen. Its religiously charged, emotionally explosive, heartbreaking, scary, and realistic, plus it goes on for what seemed like an eternity without ever getting boring, always channeling in on a new level of disturbing.
Like many great horror films that before it, The Witch handles many subversive themes in it, the most predominant being outsiders, trust, and corruption. Revolving around the idea that the people who leave working-establishments for selfish reasons are the most likely to get sucked into cults, lose trust with those around them, in this case with their only family members, and eventually be corrupted by an evil, hovering presence that taunts their broken family dynamic. Pairing the slow crumbling of a family with the increasing presence of evil is this film’s bright-spot, as it challenges religious motifs and really hammers down its grasp on corruption and how it works, slowly devouring you into its reach. That said, I do have two problem with the film. For one, as incredible as the score was, I did feel it overrode certain scenes at times, plus the fact that everyone was speaking in old English (which is another great choice from Eggers) made it hard to understand certain things characters said and became distracting at times. My second issue is a much more personal one based on my level of discomfort as I watched The Witch, centering on all the scenes featuring gore which did their job by making me feel that way but went into maybe too much and made me feel icky afterwards. In the end, that might subtract a tad from me maybe deciding to watch the film again, but The Witch is still a fantastic entry to the horror genre that works both as a proper film and a horrifying experience that you’ll always remember, thus I place it at a 79 out of 100.