Written by / 2/28/2016 / No comments / , , ,

BELATED HORROR REVIEW OF THE WITCH

Harvey Scrimshaw as Caleb tries his best
The year 1630 was a long time ago, before iPhones, telephones, or any kind of electricity... But, as we're cinematically reminded more times than even the 1950's Hollywood Blacklist, there were certain unfairly judged human beings back then... young women in this particular case... who literally sparked the formidable rage of narrow-minded religious zealots. And ironically, this time around it's an extremely religious family, especially the patriarch preacher (a visual cross between Jesus and the boss from FLETCH), who are punished and thus, sent out of their gated village to exist within a dense, tree-laden forest, living off the land despite the kids either being too young or distracted; the mother a bit wacky; and dad with very little know-how on exterior survivalism as THE WITCH could very well belong in the Body Count Horror Genre since particular family members, and even animals, are picked-off throughout an arduous two-hours of (possibly intentional) ultra slow-paced dialogue that, while sticking firmly to the speech of that time, feels as if the doomed clan were performing Shakespeare while the audience could've used subtitles to clearly understand the dialogue, especially lines uttered/muttered by the two older, more important kids...

Anna Taylor-Joy
The main character is a young teenage blonde girl... blamed for being a Witch in the first place and for that, not especially adored by her parents. She's also teased abundantly by a strange little brother and sister (one in particular wearing a thick circular coat, resembling The Michelin Man's rudimentary descendant, and perhaps the most annoying child in motion picture history). Meanwhile, the older-little brother, more close to the age of Anya Taylor-Joy's Thomasin (whose lithe, artistic beauty matches her unique name), is a close second when it comes to overall-significance: As Harvey Scrimshaw's Caleb turns in the "best" performance, seeming a throwback of child actors from the 1960's and 70's, so utterly intense and ultra-serious that, during their time at bat, you forget about anyone else and, at one point, Caleb channels Linda Blair since... well, without giving anything away, the poor tyke goes through literal hell, and beyond.

Anna again
Yet with all the potential gothic, woodsy chills, there's very little to fear; especially for a modern audience anticipating sudden-jolts i.e. what horror fans expect and pay for. Instead, THE WITCH... with an 11th hour paragraph-disclaimer that what we experienced was plain truth over entertaining fiction... is liken to a prequel of a possible (cable) series centering on the title character. One of those stories that ends where most would begin, and a let-down for anyone wanting to scream out loud but perhaps a worthy surreal mind-trip for "history" buffs intrigued by the young ladies either cast away or put to death for having a supposed edge on reality.

RATNG: *1/2
TRIVIA: Whether intentional or just coincidental, there's a similar aura/aesthetic to M. Night Shyamalan's THE VILLAGE, as well as a "lone prequel" vibe of his underrated UNBREAKABLE, which is basically two-hours of the first issue of a comic book, wherein THE WITCH, as mentioned in the review, feels like it spends the entire movie leading to what felt like the beginning or middle of something with more entertainment value. Sort of a prolonged prelude-prologue. Kinda difficult to explain, but there's an underline vibe that writer/director Robert Eggers is slightly punishing his audience to experience what he considers historic reality over popcorn filler... Yet perhaps it's better off combining the two. After all, we're the ones having to sit through the thing, either way.
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