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I'm still scratching my head about THE WITCH. Not that I didn’t understand it but more baffled as to WHY I didn’t fall in complete love with it or/and why I wasn't affected by it like most of my horror loving pals were. Much like many of you, I was bowled over when I saw the first trailer for the film, the look, the tone, the subject matter; all up my alley. Then the reviews started pouring in i.e. everybody getting in line to blow this black goat till Kingdom Cum (our very own Eric W gave it a 9 on 10). So after that, I didn’t need to read or see anything else, I was IN and just waited for its release. I finally saw it yesterday (After a flat tire stopped me from seeing it on Thursday…Satan was that your doing you cock knocker?) and I came out of the theatre… underwhelmed. I can’t believe the flick didn’t own me signed, sealed, delivered! Let me figure out via this drivel.
One thing is for certain, first time director Robert Eggers’ past as a costume, set, and production designer definitely showed here as the attention to detail in terms of EVERYTHING would make Guillermo del Toro blush. Talk about authentic! I truly felt like I was in the 17th century and for that alone the film should be applauded. Speaking of Eggers, his visual style (well backed by a talented DP) has to be praised. It echoed the Masters (like Kubrick) in execution (long takes, inventive shot compositions, powerful use of static shots and silence) and the man knew how to evoke anxiety out of me that's for sure! Now a film of this ilk wouldn’t have worked without a ROCK SOLID cast and this one definitely had that in its back-pocket. Much like the production designs, the thespians (yes big word for Arrow there) on hand sold the period by way of their grounded and visceral performances and also their credible accents. Ralph Ineson was intense and magnetic as the struggling father, Kate Dickie was convincing as the mother who keeps having her kids taken away from her while Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw often stole the show as the two older siblings coming to terms with Satan’s endless sucker punches. The family unit was mucho convincing, the chemistry was earnest hence I gravitated towards them and have a shite – they were the main strength of the film for me.
Add to all that a delicious slow burn yet always gripping pace (I love those), a manic and unnerving score by Mark Korven and a use of animals (damn you “Black Phillip”) that somewhat got under my skin and you get a strong psychological horror film, one that was more in line with THE SHINING's M.O. than say something like POLTERGEIST. On that, two things stopped me from LOVING THE WITCH as much as everybody else did. 1- I wish they had subtitles at the theaters. The old school dialogue/accent plus my “a bit weaker” than the norm hearing resulted in me only understanding 50% of what people were saying. I missed so much info! I’m not sure if understanding every line would make my sit down more fulfilling but it pisses me off to have to judge the film when I didn’t get ALL OF IT uploaded in the grey matter, know what I’m saying? And 2- Every single time something horrific would happen start to happen, the flick would cut it too short. It was maddening! You got me hooked in; the macabre begins to seep out and then…. BOOM we’re out of there to something else! Personally I found that very frustrating and it lessened the impact of the whole for me. I didn't find the film scary, worse yet, I didn't find it as unsettling (which was this one's game) as I should have either.
So after mulling on it and writing this crap I can safely say: I enjoyed THE WITCH but I'd have to see it again with subtitles to make a 100% fair assessment. So expect that this so called review may change by the end of this year. But hey who gives a bleep what I think! Go see it for yourself, come back here and spit your bullets below in our comment section! Get to it you son of witches!