Movie Review: The Witch!

the witch, movie, review, horror

It’s basically Lars Von Trier meets Hocus Pocus.

With the recent releases of The Forest and The Boy, I started to adapt a Nostradamus mindset — “Moanstradamus,” if you will — as I predicted that 2016 was going to be a catastrophic year for the horror genre. Luckily, The Witch has arrived, and it delivers us from evil for at least a little while. It also creeped me out so bad, I think I’m going to sleep with the lights on tonight and probably never visit a petting zoo again.

the witch, movie, review, horror

The Witch is directed by Robert Eggers, and stars Ralph Ineson (The Office, Game of Thrones) Kate Dickie (Prometheus, Game of Thrones) and newcomer Ann Taylor Joy. It’s a period piece set during the 1600s, about a New England family that decides to leave their religious community for a new life on their own plot of land… that happens to be surrounded by an ominous forest… that also happens to be creepy as f*** due to the amazing score… that slowly builds as the film progresses, creating a raw tension that peaks at almost unbearable levels once the final credits roll. I’m going to go on record and declare that Robert Eggers has successfully dethroned fellow horror director Ti West as the master of tension.

the witch, movie, review, horror

The Witch sports simplistic sets and wardrobes that don’t feel like they were built in a studio, but by actual settlers. And that is one of the areas where it succeeds: authenticity. I truly believed I was there in the shadows, watching this Puritan family slowly unravel, secluded in the wilderness with no contact from the outside world. It all felt very real, thanks in part to all the great performances, but especially actress Ann Taylor Joy. Despite this being her first starring role, she nails every scene and probably deserves an Oscar nod in 2017.

The only fault in the realism is the dialogue. It’s so period-authentic, some might find it hard to keep track of what is being said. If you couldn’t keep up with HBO’s Deadwood, maybe wait for a Blu-ray release so the subtitles can aid your viewing. It’s not a deal-breaker, but occasionally, I had a hard time tracking what was being said, specifically in scenes where Ralph Ineson’s character nears his breaking point.

the witch, movie, review, horror

This may very well be the best unofficial Blair Witch origin movie that we never got! I can’t recommend it enough, but please don’t go in expecting a jump scare a minute — this ain’t that kind of film. It’s a slow burn, less-is-more affair, and each scene is expertly shot. When the actual scares arrive, they are perfectly staged and truly terrifying, with some of the most haunting imagery ever captured on film.

I love a thinking man’s horror film, and that best describes The Witch. Nothing is set in stone; it’s up to you to decide. Is there really a witch in the woods? Is the oldest daughter the cause of all the unexplained phenomena? Did the younger siblings make a pact with a goat named “Black Phillip?” Yes, you read that right, and Black Phillip is by far my favorite part of this film. He might be the hottest Halloween costume this year, next to X Files’ honky-tonk Agent Mulder.

the witch, movie, review, horror

As the credits rolled and the lights slowly came back up, the entire theater was silent. After a minute or so, everyone just got up and quietly shuffled toward the exit — it’s that kind of movie-going experience. The Witch is truly an affecting film, and so far it’s this year’s horror film to beat. I urge every Laser Timer to go out and support it, because these kind of horror experiences are far and few between.

Moan4Stallone is Laser Time’s go-to horror guy. Follow him on Twitter!

11 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Witch!

  1. I fucking hated it, not because the film, which I thought was just okay(6/10?), kinda weak really, its not a strong film if youre already familiar with all this stuff, but the people overrating and being such snobs saying that people who didnt like it are idiots is intolerable elitism.
    Also the fantastical ending doesnt really fit with the mostly realistic film and conflicts with many of the metaphors/themes the people championing this film claim has.
    And the characters are just annoying/idiotic or strawman caricatures of calvinists setup to fail.

    1. Hold up, you didn’t dig Black Phillip…. ?Just kidding. The ending needed to be over the top so there was no doubt that, well dont want to spoil anything but it served to remove any doubt about what was really going on. Since I dont know a lot about the time period, I believed everything that was shown to me and it felt authentic enough. Thanks for checking out my review and im sure you already know im no snob and enjoy debating horror films, unless its Rob Zombies “The Lords of Salem” because I just cant defend that one yo!

      1. The moment I saw him, I turned and said to my friend “fuck that goat”.
        And honestly his interaction with the father and Thomasin just seems silly and makes me laugh now, especially the father, whos character just seemed like, “eh fuck it.”.
        I felt the film would be better if it turned out there was nothing to fear and it was paranoia and fear that ruined the family, also you can see rot on their corn crop that can cause hallucinations.
        Or it wouldve been better had there been more from the witches and Thomasin confronting them or learning about them or something! Anything!

        But as it is…..its just lacking, it isnt enough, which is what I really felt after watching it, I was like, thats it, I came to the theater, waited through fucking first look, ads and trailers and paid $8 for that.
        Characters die, very easily and abruptly and I dont care because theyre annoying, stupid or dumb and I cant even root for the cause of it because its absent until the very end. And dont get me started on the main characters motivations at the end and the choice she makes which just seems like why? Why would you do that after what has happened to you and why would you want to when clearly youve been wronged by this.

        I will say the film builds tension, especially by being a bit off beat and using its music, but that more frustrating because it doesnt capitalize on it, it doesnt deliver anything really.

        Im mostly annoyed because the criticism is so one sided on this one when I dont think it deserves acclaim like It Follows or The Babdook and I didnt even like the Babadook but at least it delivered something.
        And in no way does it justify the talking down of people its brought about.

  2. I guess there’s always going to be movies that one might feel are overhyped or get too much praise or have pretentious/snobby supporters. For my part, I don’t understand why people rave over You’re Next.

    In horror especially, I think it’s best to ignore all this if you can. We don’t get enough good horror movies, so if something gets a little more attention than we think it deserves, what’s the real harm in that? The Witch really is a great horror movie, by the way. Anyone remember how it felt to walk out of the theater after Blair Witch? Feeling like you got tricked out of seeing said witch? This movie makes up for it! Thanks for the review, horror fans take notice and go see it y’all!

    1. Fun fact about “You’re Next;” I acquired a set of mask that were given away at a local premire and ended up selling them to Oscar De La Hoya and Travis Barkers ex wife! Yup star of Pacific Blue Shanna Moakler; for a small patreon donation I will release her home adress…100 percent kidding but I did sell her the masks via ebay and she was 100 percent nice via email and it was a gift for her kid who was a huge fan.

  3. Just saw it. I really liked it. I am glad there is very little in the way of ‘payoff’ or explanation. But I also liked Under the skin and Only god forgives. There are certain film makers that use the medium as a medium without playing into conventions of genre. I love when movies do this. It gives me a break from the plethora of predictability that some genres fall into. There was a trailer for the next conjuring movie before The Witch that did nothing for me because with those types of horror movies I can tell what I’m getting. The Witch is all about the audio and visual making you feel uneasy. Its the kind of thing I respond to more in movies. The creation of a sense of the impending or a sense of desolation. Even if there was nothing supernatural going on, the idea of trying to survive in the wilderness with just a bunch of kids to feed is fucking terrifying. Now add long shots, cold lighting, and a haunting ass score and you create a sense of place and a sense of disquiet in what should be relative calm. Then add the crazy shit. As someone who saw ABC’s The Day After too young and saw people hammer on the Berlin wall on the news, it will always be abstract fear and the unanswered question of what comes next that tickles my brain. When you can do that with scene and sound and less with concrete words or plot, its a win for the craft of movie making in my book.

    1. Amen! You know you have struck horror gold when a simple act like washing clothes in a river can send chills down your spine! Thanks for your input and checking out the review brotha.

  4. This was excellent, both the film and the review. The sense of dread and terror existed as soon as the family is exiled in the beginning and doesn’t stop until you leave the theater, and even then it might stay with you. Also, it helps when everything else about the film is great, whether it’s the cast, the score, or direction and pace.

    No spoilers: The end of the Witch is a perfect ending, considering the tone throughout the film. It just makes you feel uneasy and shocked. Like you said, the director really nailed the tension throughout this film. As soon as the film ended, however, most of my audience members just said “that was bad”, “What was that?”, or “I had no idea what was happening” but luckily they didn’t complain or make a lot of noise during the film so at least my brother and I enjoyed it peacefully.

    1. Thanks for the compliments; its hard to write up these kind of films since what makes it amazing also spoils it. I find that when someone in the audience doesn’t get a horror film, thats usually a good sign! Means it was something special or really stupid, im looking at you Bless the Child! Jk

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