The Witch (2015) – A New-England Folktale

Horror is an amazing genre. I say amazing because there are a variety of ideas and references the writer or director can explore. You can write a horror film about grief. You direct lots of horror films with lots of jumps scares as well. There is a horror sub-genre with a found-footage or vlog format, but there is also a horror slasher. At the onset, mankind’s great fears are a great sub-genre of horror too. There are so many things to talk about and to explore such the genre. It’s not just about Japanese ghosts, jumpscare, plot twist, or else. However, horror is abstract, complex, and thrilling.

In this era, you often get various kinds of horror. One of my favorite sub-genres is psychological. When a horror genre explores human deepest fears, this is what I like the most. However, you also get a lot of artsy in a horror movie. One of them is Robert Eggers‘ “The Witch”, a New England folklore about, you guessed it, the 17th-century witch. Artistic horror or people always called as artsy began to rise thanks to films like this. No monsters, no jumpscare, and no tropes in mainstream horror. It’s just abstract and psychology it mourns our feelings within oneself. It’s the first step the Academy Awards could appreciate more the genre again as aesthetic arts.

“The Witch” takes place in New England precisely in the 1630s. The main character, Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin, is a young girl. The society in their city expels their families and themselves after adopting a different religion from other residents. They finally created a small farm on the edge of the forest. Falling on the stairs illustrates the state of the Thomasin family. However, a strange incident occurred when Thomasin’s sister just disappeared. Thomasin and her other siblings believe there is a witch in the forest. It’s just a myth for them but becomes strange when witches are hiding in their family.

Even though you don’t see the monster in this film, “The Witch” is terrifying. You believe the witch is just a folklore story. It’s just not about symbolic entities but they do exist. The crucial of ten minutes, the witch began to act horribly. With such an eerie atmospheric score by Mark Koven, it’s incredible. Mysterious cinematography by Jarin Blaschke, the witch’s illustration isn’t so cheap either. It’s just so mysterious and character building is also very, very well-written.

“The Witch”, which is the self-aware title, isn’t just about the witch itself. The witch never fears its audience because of its physical, design, or make-up. It’s about how the family, the Thomasin family, are hiding each other’s secrets. The movie tells the terrible impact of the witch. However, who knows how strong their faith is, their fear of supernatural or mythical beings is stronger. They didn’t know what was behind the trees. Until then, they suspected each other until they didn’t even know each other.

A narrow place trapped them, on their small farm. Corns begin to rot, animals die, goat’s milk becomes blood, and other tragic moments. The family’s integrity began to collapse as the witch tore them apart. It’s about family, how do we have family rush and pushed each other. You don’t even think about logic and facts anymore. They suddenly associate themselves with each character. Even though it’s wide beside the forest, you feel the isolation for them.

One of the best things about this movie is the script. All the actors, besides their performance, are the best and speak using old English. Regardless of which, I often distracted and lack understanding of word for word. But, that’s the aesthetic of the movie. It not only captures the period time of the 17th century. Realistically, it captures what happened in such a period. Speaking of the script, the performance is amazing especially the twins. The twins quite remind me of the twins in “The Shining”. They all have their characteristics not because they are irritating yet creepy. It’s because they are so low-key.

The movie used old English. But, you can understand it more easily when you see it from the actor’s gesture, intense, and eye. After that, you begin to understand it word for word. There is a jaw-dropping scene with such a jaw-dropping performance as well by Harvey Scrimshaw. When the scene comes, there is no score to describe the details of what happened. But, I love that because you have to show it but don’t tell the audience. His performance is just hell out of a word. I scared my crap out of me. After the scene was over, I didn’t know what to say, to be honest.

Taylor Joy’s innocence makes us easy to sympathize with her confined feelings. Above all, it’s a movie about a coming-of-age tale. It’s about patience and rebellion. She tried to withstand outer conflict in her family and obedient to her parents. But, her mother was always suspicious on various occasions. This is a movie about self-aware, embracing ourselves, confession, and sin. You could say this movie is a religious horror, about a Christian family. They are religious. They always pray whether they feel sad, angry, or happy. However, their obedience is so desperate that the witch doesn’t control the situation of the family.

“The Witch” is also a feminine tale about witchcraft. It’s about a young woman who tries to leave one to another system. On top of all, this movie is the goat. The cinematography captures the essence of disturbing yet weird. Claustrophobic in large areas are very thick. This movie used its environment as much as possible to make it look real and raw. Even they used the real goat and I originally thought it was only CGI. The music, the long takes, the shot per shot, every sequence is uncomfortable to hold it once.

“The Witch” is an arthouse of a horror genre, a thought-provoking movie with such an excellent performance. The music is terrifying and the ending is just weird. It gives us enough pay-off to think about what was just going on. Most people would walk out in the first and second act because this is a slow burn movie. But, I love movies that do that because they give us time and build to get ready what comes next. And they also give us enough information so that we care about the main characters whatsoever. On top of that, I fricking love this movie.

4 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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