The Witch: A New England Folk Tale

06:09 February 24, 2016
By: David Vicari

*** out of ****

Don't expect “boo” scares or a mad slasher slicing up teens in The Witch: A New England Folk Tale, because this movie is more about atmosphere and psychological damage. The film is layered with a feeling of dread with a  pacing that is slow – maybe too slow – and deliberate. It's kind of like horror by way of Ingmar Bergman (Hour of the Wolf?).

In New England of 1630, a devout Christian family is banished from their village. They end up settling on the outskirts of a deep, dark forest. Immediately, bizarre things begin to happen. Their infant son literally vanishes instantly under the care of oldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy). We learn that the baby was the victim of the supernatural, and the parents (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie) accuse Thomasin of being a witch. Thomasin, however, thinks it is her younger siblings that are up to no good. 

The Witch reminds me of such films as 1966's excellent Incubus and the 1983 cheese-ball opus Eyes of Fire in that they all invoke folk tales, superstitions and the devil. Writer/director Robert Eggers has created in The Witch a movie that has the ability to not only unnerve you but to haunt you long after you see it.

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