Definitely an eerie and moody film but not as suspenseful as I would have hoped.
“THE WITCH” is written and directed by Robert Eggers in his first full-feature film, and stars; Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie and Harvey Scrimshaw.
The story follows a heavily religious family in 17th century New England who after being exiled from their plantation set up a homestead on the edge of an ominous stretch of wilderness. When one of their children mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail to thrive, the families fears of witchcraft increase as they turn on one another and leave themselves vulnerable to a dark evil lurking in the forest surrounding them.
A bulk of writer/director Robert Eggers career has revolved around costume and production design and it certainly shows in this project. The settings, locations and wardrobes were all excellent for the story. The color palette was very washed out and served perfect for a creepy story with bleak settings that capture perfectly, the harsh New England winter, and struggles of the era. I read in an article that much of the lighting was natural and it comes across well onscreen and conveys a strong dreary backdrop to the entire film.
The performances were okay for the most part but there were some moments that felt a little over-acted, not to mention a good portion of the dialogue being unintelligible – thus hard to connect with. There were some scenes where the performances thrived then others that felt as if the performers had trouble matching the lines with the proper expressions and mannerisms. It all resulted in a story that was intriguing at times, but failed to completely pull me in.
The score throughout was impressive and very well done to complement the tone of the visual side of the story. It built tension that in my opinion the story failed to do – only it often led to nothing in the story-line. The first-act was very compelling and I actually found the third-act relatively intriguing, but too much of middle seemed to really circle itself for several scenes with little to no tension built. Just doses of mild suspense here and there.
In the end “The Witch” was certainly a unique film, but a little too much style over substance, and I’ll give it a solid (C+). This film had some enjoyable moments but it just wasn’t a fun movie to watch, failed to build a strong sense of tension throughout, and is honestly forgettable. There is definitely an audience that will enjoy this movie, it’s artistic, unique, and captures the time-period, but the story didn’t connect enough with me. I enjoy a film that will provoke thought from its subtle meanings, however I couldn’t class this one as one of those projects.
Time: 93 min
MPAA Rating: R (For disturbing violent content and graphic nudity)