Let’s talk about The VVitch. I love horror, but I love it most when it comes at you in unexpected ways. Not only is it the first scary movie I’ve seen this year, it’s also the first foreign picture I’ve watched. Kidding about the latter, obviously. But you coulda fooled me! Old English is a trip.
Anyway, when I say scary, in reference to this movie, it’s not quite fair. Because while it is frightening, it is even more so thoroughly unnerving. Anytime a family is so isolated, that’s when the weirdest shit happens. Not like, The Hills Have Eyes. There are not backwoods mutants or anything. More like Amityville. Evil forces coercing a once tightly knit family unit to implode.
I’ll spare you the diatribe about what the horror genre has become and instead focus on the idea that maybe, just maybe, we are at the dawn of a resurrected era. Scary movies weren’t always slasher flicks that relied on jump scares and a gross of blood packs on standby to raise the hair on the back of your neck. Those are fun, but once upon a time, there was more to it.
Part of the experience is getting the audience to go along with the story. To get them to buy it, if you will. However, when you have that perfect storm of characters/plot/setting/execution, it will instill the feeling of waking up from a stressful nightmare in its audience. That moment when you open your eyes and you’re just in bed, sweating and still and afraid to move. And then that relief washes over you. Filmmakers behind movies like The Babadook, Oculus, It Follows, and The VVitch have nailed that technique. They are vigilantes charging into what is arguably one of the most beloved genres of all time and changing all of the rules.
Keeping the cast small and often isolated seems to work like gangbusters. The Witch is an excellent illustration of that. In 1630 New England, the oldest of four children, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), is left in charge of the youngest son in the family, Samuel.
Samuel absolutely owns Thomasin in a game of Peek-A-Boo by disappearing forever. Grief-stricken, Katherine (Kate Dickie) — the matriarch of the family — succumbs to her melancholy. Meanwhile, the children’s father, William (Ralph Ineson) is trying to keep all of the plates spinning. He’s searching for answers, comforting his wife, chopping a shit ton of wood, and trying to keep his weird ass kids from doing weird ass shit.
Ralph, if you read this, I just want you to know that you could quit making movies today and live the rest of your days in the lap of luxury doing voice overs for video games. That’s neither here nor there, but I wanted to put it out there in case nobody had ever mentioned that to you before.
Eldest son, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) gets it in his head that he should go find his baby brother. And that doesn’t go very well.
I would hate to live in a time when, if something were to go wrong, somebody’s gotta be a witch or it was the devil. Like, that’s crazy. I know you need someone to blame, but let’s not jump right to burn the witch, okay? Thank god for the internet. Even though the internet is kinda the devil.
And it all comes full circle.
I experienced The VVitch. I would usually say that I enjoyed a movie, but this isn’t a movie you really enjoy, per se. What I will say is that in his debut, Director/Producer Robert Eggers knocked it out of the park! Or, perhaps a more appropriate analogy, he really burned the witch! I’m sorry. I’ll show myself out.