The Witch (2016) Review!

Witch, please!


Liiiiiiiiiittle bit late to the party on this one. Did not go to the theatre, but I did see this one (finally) On Demand.

So The Witch polarized audiences back in February, it’s the writing-directing debut of Robert Eggers and stars Anya Taylor-Joy. Set in the 1600’s, it follows a New England family who, after being banished from a plantation, decide to go roughin’ it out in the woods on their own. But it’s not long before a sinister presence attacks them from within.

This is a movie I went in with high expectations for. Even when reading the negative reviews, I felt like I would enjoy it. I do love a good horror movie, but it’s just so rare to find something that feels fresh. Much less scary. And I have to say The Witch IS fresh and it really IS scary.

It’s the most immersive dark movie since Apocalypto. It’s beautifully shot, using the landscape to great effect. The chills and eerie darkness of the forest come across on the screen. The sets are perfect, the costume design is solid. But what truly immerses you is the language. They speak in period accurate thy’s and thou’s.

Reading that may instigate a reaction similar to the one I had when I first found out- something like ugh, really?

Yes. Really.

And it’s probably the best thing about the movie.

Not only is the dialogue itself period accurate, but the actual accents do as well. It’s not delivered in a flowery, romantic way like modern Shakespeare. It’s more accurate to the time. It’s rough and coarse and really, really, old. But every actor, even the kids, pulls it off to the point where it sounds completely natural. You believe that this is their native accent. And the greatest compliment I can give the film is that while the dialogue started out a little challenging and hard to understand, eventually- through the strength of the performances- you get it. It’s no longer a hindrance but its greatest advantage. The immersion level goes through the roof once the period accurate dialogue starts to click for you. And eventually the language takes on this lyrical, almost spellbinding quality. I could listen to the actors just speak in that tone for hours.

(See what I did there? The Witch? Spellbinding? Hah.)

Now you may have noticed, but I’ve gone a full three hundred words about a horror  movie called The Witch without talking about- you know- the witch.

And that’s because there’s not much to talk about. This is why it polarized audiences. If you’re thinking of something along the lines of cackling wart-nosed hunchback, or The Conjuring: Salem version then you’d probably be better off with something else. This is a historical drama that happens to have a witch in it.

It’s a scary movie, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not so much scary for supernatural reasons as it is real world ones. It’s terrifying to see this isolated family start to turn on each other. Once the witchy buisness starts, the children and parents start accusing one another of being the cause. It uproots their beliefs, their way of life. And it’s terrifying to watch a Puritan family so quickly turn on each other because of their own paranoia. Because it feels real. As you watch, you can’t help but feel as though this really could have happened.

So where does that leave us? It’s a beautifully filmed period piece that happens to have a witch in it. It’s more Jane Eyre than Blair Witch Project. It’s got a fantastic cast and immersive, authentic language that enthralls and captivates. I think it’s very well paced, despite lots of reviews saying it’s too slow, and it’s rather unsettling. But it’s not for everyone. I can’t give it an oreo, or a chocolate chip, because I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy this movie. It’s not a safe bet. But I loved it. And if you have similar tastes to me, you will love it.

The Witch has taken over the top spot of 2016 for me.

If this movie were a cookie, it would be a Macadamia Nut cookie. I love it, but the very reasons why I love it is why it’s not for everyone.


Author: Jaden C. Kilmer

Writer, aspirator, daydreamer, word makerupper.

11 thoughts on “The Witch (2016) Review!”

  1. You’re point about the movie feeling real is exactly the reason why I found this movie so terrifying and thrilling. It’s a movie that I felt like I was watching something no one was supposed to see. It was incredibly immersive. Glad you liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Chocolate Chip would be a solid movie that I’d safely recommend for everyone, but perhaps a little familiar. The first one that comes to mind would be The Hunger Games series 🙂


  2. A very well written review, but I admit to finding the dialogue a bit distracting. Not because it was so authentic, but because it sometimes was, sometimes wasn’t. It’s good to see you say you found it immersive, actually, because that means it’s my British Lit training that made me see some flaws, and general audiences probably wouldn’t. That makes it easier for me to recommend The Witch.

    Liked by 1 person

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