Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: The Witch


Set in mid-17th century New England and featuring a cast of unknowns speaking large volumes of Early Modern English, Robert Eggers' The Witch means well but doesn't quite live up to the hype surrounding it.  The movie focuses on a family that has been shunned from a community and must live alone in home near a large wooded area.  The children of the family are attacked/abducted over time by some sort of evil.  Most of the movie plays out as a whodunnit in which the audience tries to determine who the real witch(es) is (are).  Nearly every member of the family is suspected at some point in time and the film crawls along to a violent final 15 minutes.

The acting is not that bad overall and Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin (really, who names their daughter Thomasin???) seems to connect the most with the audience.  The real problem here is the story and the language.  I know that the dialogue is authentic to the era, but I found myself struggling to follow along at times and during key sequences of emotional distress I probably missed out on some important lines.  Also the violence and evil depicted really didn't make any sense.  I'm sure there are numerous bloggers out there trying to make sense of all of it but I found myself not invested enough to really care.  For those who are claiming that this is one of the scarriest movies in years, they are gravely mistaken.  Last year's The Visit was much more frightening than this effort.  I will say the movie looked great though with lots of long takes and a proper conveyed sense of isolation.  Hopefully Eggers (who wrote and directed this film in his debut effort) ends up producing a better script and subject matter next time around.  He does seem to have the right visual eye for this genre.

All in all, I was very unsettled by this movie.  That's mostly not a good thing.  I didn't fall asleep though and remained interested.  I'm not really sure what I saw and what it all meant but I definitely won't be seeing this movie again.  If you're at all curious to see it, feel free to take that gamble on cable or Netflix in a year or so.  I wouldn't spend any money going to the theater to see this perplexing and often frustrating tale of puritan struggle between good and evil.  A measly 2 JRs for the 3rd worst film of 2016 so-far (trust me, The 5th Wave and The Forrest are worse films).