By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
[Parts and Labor; 2016]
Puritan society in Anglo countries were arguably some of the most terrifying societies in modern memory. The demonization of young women (think Salem Witch Trials) is put on full display in The Witch, a horror-thriller directed by Robert Eggers, that is as much unsettling for its familial dramatics as it is for 1700s-brand witchcraft. It’s hard to believe that this is Eggers’ first feature film, as the level of craft on display is marvelous. From the detailed and memorizing cinematography to how tantalizingly slowly the story’s pace moves along, his deft touch is felt throughout each sequence.
In this kind of film, however, acting talent is crucial to succeed. Each character, from Anya Taylor-Joy’s Thomasin, to the Game of Thrones veterans Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie as the family heads William and Katherine, play their parts as if they’ve never lived in modern times. Even the animals are particularly creepy – Black Phillip the Satanic goat collects this immense presence that never lets up. It’s a unique experience, solitary and despondent as hardships pile up on a god-fearing tribe of people whose only wish is to live in harmony.
Honesty and virtue are the values that carry this movie into a place that more often than not chills the bone. When the movie ends, one is left with a weird, abstract feeling that cannot be shaken easily. How was life lived this way? Eggers not only puts the concept of the horror genre on trial, he dissects ye olde family as it was and in the process creates something much more than that.