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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Movie Review - The Witch

The Witch (2016)
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
Directed by Robert Eggers
***This film is currently streaming via Amazon Prime***

Subtitled "A New-England Folktale," The Witch takes us back to a 17th century Puritan landscape where William (Ralph Ineson), his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), teenage daughter Thomas (Anya Taylor-Joy), "tween" son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), young twins (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson), and baby are forced to leave the established community after a religious disagreement.  Banished, the family stakes their claim on an isolated plot of land that borders a forest, but soon after creating their homestead, their young baby disappears while under the watch of their oldest daughter.  The devoutly religious Katherine is certain that their missing daughter is punishment by God for their Puritan banishment, but William refuses to return to the settled community.  Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse rather quickly with the family finding themselves forced to face demons that may or may not be real.

I wanted to enjoy The Witch more than I did.  First-time writer-director Robert Eggers has certainly crafted an ominous, creepy environment filled with a muted gray color palette that adds to the eerie aesthetic.  The actors -- from the youngest to the oldest -- do a fantastic job ties embodying the inherent oddness of the guilt-ridden early Americana Puritan landscape and help to add to the uncomfortableness that's felt throughout the piece.  Their constant questioning into who to place their trust -- family or religion -- is nicely depicted by the actors and the Eggers' script.  In the end, though, it's a film that doesn't quite have enough story to maintain its ninety minute runtime.  Tightening things up by about twenty minutes would've done wonders to the film and created a tauter, more intense affair.  As it stands now, the slow pace bogs the film down rather than ratchet up the tension.  The Witch works at creating its unique environment, but in the end, it's not a horror film that I ever feel the need to watch again.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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