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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thoughts on The Witch

I enjoyed seeing The Witch last month. It is a slow burn of a movie, and is about an isolated 1630s English family falling victim to their own religious hysteria and being tormented by a shape shifting witch. I liked that the movie felt really uncomfortable to watch, with a lot of tension, still moments, growing sense of dread, and horror without jump scares, showing more horror with the family turning on each other than the witch being overexposed.

The acting was fantastic, and I liked seeing a story that combined folklore and witchcraft with a story of a family going insane in a faraway time, it felt like a story that could really happen, of a family destroying themselves due to religious delusions and fear of the supernatural. The witch only made sporadic appearances, in human and animal forms, and was genuinely disturbing.

I was impressed by how well the actors spoke the Old English dialogue, but sometimes I had trouble following what was being said, especially with all the "thou, thee, thy, dost" talk. Some conversations were difficult to understand (as well with the characters' thicker regional accents), and I had to read a plot summary afterwards to catch up on parts I missed or didn't understand.

Also, while I liked the slow pace of the film, the story felt like it was a lot of buildup, as things just kept getting worse for the family. It did have a major climatic moment (which a little boy really acted the hell out of), but it still felt like the story was just adding more creepy moments rather than having a powerful third act. I saw the movie more as telling a folk tale with horror elements rather than being a straight horror film, and liked the feeling of being taken far in time to a story that seemed terrifying in its depiction of religious hysteria and family abuse. I highly recommend the film.

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