Robert Eggers’ The Witch took horror movie film festivals by storm last year. Now, during its wide release, critics are raving about it, calling it the best horror film of the year (so far). It’s pretty easy to claim something as “the best horror film of the year (so far)” in early March, especially when your only competition are a few movies that I don’t even think are worth my time to look up the actual names of [I know there’s one about dead people in a forest, and another about a girl babysitting a doll… or some stupid shit like that]. After hearing about how creepy and well done this movie was, I went to see it with some pretty high expectations… which was partly my fault, but the majority of the blame should be placed on the film itself.
The first 15 minutes of this movie set the bar WAY too high. I will give credit to this film for making me worry about what the rest of the film has in store for me to watch with a grimace on my face as I curled up into a ball and hugged my knees. Unfortunately, the film was not able to hold this level of discomfort and creepiness through the rest of the movie. If you happen to watch this movie, and if you happen to stomach the first horrifying scene, then I must warn you to prepare yourself for 30 minutes of straight boredom as you watch an episode of a 1630s Soap Opera that involves small scale farming, very poor hunting skills, and weird sexual tension between siblings.
About 45 minutes into the run time, things will start to pick up again, but they will not get back to the same level of horror and discomfort that the first scene did. Also, I thought a vision and theme had been established that was never followed up on toward the end, and this resulted in me questioning why the film was made in the first place as I walked out of the theater.
This is by far the best element this film has to offer. Sure, it has two really young and cliche creepy kids in it, but the other 4 (Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, and Harvey Scrimshaw) put on an amazing show for us. If the story can’t keep your attention, then these actors will do it for you. Harvey Scrimshaw may be one of the best child-actors to date.
This film is very well directed and well shot. The lighting and scenery always give an eerie feel to every scene. It’s almost like the sun didn’t even exist in the movie. This is a dark film, and the cinematography reflects that very well.
Like most decent horror films, the music plays a big part in this film. Mark Korven’s score is very creepy. It excels in making the audience feel uncomfortable and anxious. It isn’t filled with super-loud noises that coordinate with jump scares, because tension is built so well in the music that it doesn’t need a super loud noise to scare you.
X-Factor: I hate goats, 4/10 [Potential Spoiler]
Goats are the only animal associated with Satanic worship. Tell me there’s not something suspicious about that and I’ll call you a witch myself. If you show me a goat in a movie like this, I am going to point it out to the person sitting next to me. So, don’t try to surprise me with this “it was the goat the whole time” bullshit, I knew from the minute that damned goat showed up on screen that it was screwed up because all goats are screwed up and potentially evil. Screw goats.
The Witch was a decent horror film. If you can enjoy a movie simply for its good directing and its excellent actors, then I would definitely recommend seeing it while it’s in theaters. But, if you need a horror film that’s going to keep your heart beating and your knuckles white for the entire run time, then The Witch is not for you. The thing that broke my excitement of the film was a lack of vision and purpose that I felt the film had, but other than that, I think the potential for an excellent movie is here.