Friday, February 19, 2016
Review: The Witch (2016)
'The Witch' Is 'The Shining' From The Pilgrim Days
Before leaving the theater, I was pretty anxious to leave it. But I was anxious in the best possible way because this movie is packed with rather subtle scares.
The Witch follows the story of a family living in 16th century New England. But as the family lives in isolation in their own village, they slowly succumb to forces of the supernatural that lie in the woods as well as their own fear and paranoia.
What is so interesting about this film is that even though a witch is present, it isn't constantly physically present. Instead, the filmmakers focus on how the titular witch casts a large shadow over this family trying to live in harmony and we see just how driven to the edge this family is over the course of the movie. That's why the movie Sinister worked so well. We rarely ever see the main villain that is hiding behind the home movies. But because of that, its presence is felt throughout.
Since the filmmakers put so much emphasis on atmosphere and paranoia, it makes this film feel like The Shining in the 1600's but without ripping from it wholesale. There are plot elements of The Shining. In particular, the isolated family driven to the point of insanity and the elements of the supernatural. But it's far from a carbon copy.
The film also maintains a dreary tone throughout thanks to its use of cinematography. Every shot of this film, both in cloudy daylight and in nighttime, just reeks of doom and dread. Also, the score is absolutely bone chilling. I can still hear the screeching violins ringing in my head.
I also thought the acting was terrific. A few standouts include Anya Taylor-Joy as the eldest daughter who becomes caught in the center of the boiling tension and Kate Dickie who plays the simple-minded yet high maintenance mother.
Overall, The Witch is a dreary yet atmospheric thrill ride that may not be packed with jump scares, but still have you shaking to your core by the time the credits roll.