A few years ago you may have caught wind of a particular bit of horror movie history called “The Witch”. This incredible film uses a period setting in Puritan New England to tell the tale of a family that was exiled from their home into the surrounding woods. Several mysteries abound within the tale waiting to be revealed, including whether the titular Witch is mere superstition or a real force in this family’s life. While some claimed that the film wasn’t scary and was hardly a horror film, we can’t entirely agree. The horrific aspects of the film are many, and subtle. What it lacks is the in-your-face gore-grab, full of professional gory horror props, that so many viewers are waiting for these days.
A Perfectly Executed Setting
The first and most important part of this film’s impact is the faithfulness with which they stuck to the setting. This period in history was rife with superstition and fear of the supernatural or unknown. From the very beginning, we can feel the families trepidation as they set out to find a new home away from their village in the surrounding forests. Everything from the lighting to the costuming was absolutely perfect, and really helped to bring you into the world they lived in.
Playing With Multiple Fires
Another thing we loved about this film was the way that it played with multiple stressors in the environment. We have a young boy coming into his sexual maturity, an older sister who is already there, and two young twins who are the heart of disobedience throughout the film. For reasons unknown, the daughter is much reviled by her mother, something reflected in the twin's treatment of her, while her brother is alternately antagonistic and supportive as typical of siblings.
Their isolation is certainly no help, nor the strange events that begin to occur around the farm. This leads into a form of paranoia ripping through the family as fingers are pointed, tempers are raised, and suspicions form. Over the run of the film, we slowly begin to see the family start to self-destruct, especially after her brother disappears into the woods and returns much changed.
So Is There A Witch?
This question keeps cropping up in the viewer's mind throughout the film. At one point the answer to this question becomes glaringly obvious, but not before a number of false alarms send us running in circles trying to figure it out. As the film continues we see tragedy after tragedy befall this family and start to get a clear image of the actual problems that plague them.
Before we ever get the big reveal we get to see a family falling apart and turning on itself as answers to some of the events surrounding them are sought. We’re reminded how easy it is for events like those at the Salem Witch Trials to occur, and how much of an ever-present danger hysteria can be. This film was one of the best rides we’ve been on for a while, and while it took a few years for us to get to it it was well worth the wait. If you’ve yet to see this film, sure to become a classic, take a little time out of your day and check it out. And if you are already a fan of this modern-day classic, take a moment to check out our collection of the Scariest Halloween Costumes, especially our Helga the Witch Costume.