If there’s one thing you want from your horror films, it’s creepiness and 2015’s The Witch (also known as The VVitch due to it’s 1630s setting) is certainly one of the creepiest films around.
Having never sat down to watch this before, I was half-pleased and half-fearful when I saw the “A24” title card. Midsommar is one of my favourite 2019 films so far, but with the preceding Hereditary, which still makes me shake my head in disappointment, this could have gone either way.
In all fairness, this did have a feel around it in the same way Midsommar did. The sense of isolation and recluse that this film absolutely needed.
Set in the 1630s, Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie play a husband and wife who are banished along with their family for their religious beliefs. They build a farm in the middle of a forest, but tragedy strikes soon after when their baby is stolen by a witch in the woods.
As time progresses and family problems begin to rip apart their happiness, the supernatural goings on in the forest darken and begin to take over their lives.
What The Witch manages to pull off is a great sense of tension. As an audience, we are introduced to the titular antagonist early on, without the family we are watching actually knowing what is going on, and from that initial creepiness we are led down a harrowing path of torn relationships, families fractured by tragedy and a deep feeling of unease everytime something builds.
I thoroughly enjoyed this horror, especially the contrast between how loud it can be early on when kids are running around playing an singing, through to the climactic scenes in which silence truly speaks louder than any screaming can do.
Anya Taylor-Joy in her first main credited acting role as the teenage daughter who has constant friction with her family puts in a really good show of her acting credentials so early in her career too.
Is it the best Horror ever made? No, but its perfectly adequate for this time of year.