By Dorany Pineda
Robert Eggers succeeds in immersing the audience into the suspenseful, horror-driven world of “The Witch” in his debut feature film.
Set on a farm in 1630’s New England, “The Witch” tells the story about a supernatural entity that causes a family to tear itself apart.
When newborn Samuel disappears under the watch of the oldest daughter Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor Joy, despair and fear closes in on their family.
Animals turn evil, their crops fail and another child is visibly possessed by an evil spirit. Unable to explain these occurrences, they blame Thomasin.
Soon after, her twin siblings Mercy and Jonas, played by Ellie Granger and Lucas Dawson, suspect her of witchcraft.
The mother, played by Kate Dickie, stricken with grief and the father, played by Ralph Ineson, unable to console her amidst his own lies, suspicion and paranoia reign over the family.
The cinematography in “The Witch” is frightfully stunning. Its range of deep black shadows vividly capture the eerie mystique of the strange and unsettling things that happen to the family.
It intensifies the total isolation and simultaneous claustrophobia that the family lives in, while bringing the woods that lurk on the edge of their cottage into the dark and foreboding.
The score is especially powerful. It nurses the suspense and tension in a scene so intensely as to induce a near hysteria in the person experiencing it.
The acting by new-face Joy, and Ineson is fantastic. There are moments when Harvey Crimshaw’s character as Caleb falls short and is a bit dull, but he redeems himself in one of the most intensely terrifying scenes of the entire movie.
Though not a typical horror film in the sense that it inspires jump scares, the effectiveness of “The Witch” lies in the discrete moments of terror and its restraints, in which things unseen are more tormenting than the things that are.
“The Witch” is a great, ground breaking horror film by first-time director Robert Eggers. It is unconventional, chilling and taps into a very deep, terrifying psychology in which faith, love and loyalty are interrogated and violently dismantled in the end.