Such a strong debut feature. Robert Eggers’ low-budget occultist horror, The Witch, is a chilling tale of sexual awakening, superstition and man’s struggle against nature. Ralph Ineson plays the incendiary head of a family of Puritans who is excommunicated from the relative safety of a New England colony and heads out into the wilderness with his flock to find ‘God’s country’.
Eggers makes good use of the naivety of 17th-century thinking and devotion to religious orthodoxy to deliver a film that is consistently unnerving and visually haunting – particularly in the case of the behaviour of the two younger siblings and the goat (or is he the devil) Black Phillip.
This is not a jump out of seat shocker nor is it fast paced, so if those are the key criteria for your horror watching pleasure, look elsewhere. The Witch is a cauldron of a film full of menace and foreboding, which is complemented by excellent camera work and lighting. Nothing in the film is welcoming; its portrayal of the homesteader’s lot is bleak, cold and unforgiving.
Told largely through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) against a screeching mournful musical score, this is a superb reimagining of the genre.