The Witch is a modern horror film directed by Roger Eggers about a family in 1630’s New England who have been banished from their town. The story tugs at various issues, which could be commentaries on issues that are relevant today such as religious freedom and women’s rights. The oldest daughter, Thomasin is in charge of watching over the baby Samuel, but Samuel goes missing. The family doesn’t know what to do, or where he’s gone, but once he disappears even scarier things begin to happen.
I had really high expectations for this movie based on the commercial, and an essay about how it was a commentary on women’s rights. Despite this, I was expecting it to be a little bit like M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 film, The Village, which was a classic period horror film with little to no historical basis.
The Witch was interesting because it was written using actual courtroom documents and letters from the time. Granted, that made the dialogue a little hard to understand sometimes, but I honestly thought using real documents made the whole thing a little scarier.
There was an incredibly obvious tension between Thomasin and the rest of the family, especially as Thomasin exited girlhood and started to become a woman. Watching this film through a modern scope was interesting because the entire family thought Thomasin was becoming a witch, even though it was obvious she was just going through puberty.
It makes you think about how girls are viewed as they’re growing up in our society, and comments on how that is perceived as sinful even though it is someone else’s gaze that is sexualizing them. Not only is this movie packed full of commentary about women, it also leaves you with plenty of questions about religion, and the ultimate question: how far is too far?
The Witch relies on mind games to keep you feeling scared. It isn’t especially gory, and nothing really pops out at you (though the long pauses between scenes might make you think otherwise), but this movie will get into your head. It leaves you coming up with questions, and answering them on your own. You’re actively thinking about the movie and what it’s about, which made it twice as scary for me.
If you’re into horror, and you like to think about what you’re seeing, I think this movie is a good choice. There’s plenty to talk about after, it’s beautifully shot, and the dialogue and concept are interesting enough to keep you engaged the entire time. I will warn, though, it takes a little while to unpack this movie so don’t go into it as you might go into a lot of horror movies. This is a film that makes you think.