I can still remember the first time I saw the trailer for The Witch. I was alone (that was my first mistake), and the lights were off. I pressed play, and what I saw in the next few minutes stuck with me for the next few hours. The atmosphere and general feeling just freaked me out like very few actual films do, let alone their trailers. This was a few months ago, and as we got closer and closer to the release of the film, more and more outstanding reviews started to surface. Naturally, I went to see this film alone, because apparently I hate myself.
The Witch is an ultra low-budget horror film, and follows an English family in America in the 1630s as they deal the prospect of witchcraft. Being incredibly religious, the family start to blame each other, and themselves, for the bad things that start to happen.
Anybody who’s seen even a small amount of coverage for this film knows that it’s not your typical modern horror. It’s what people who enjoy this kind of film would call ‘a slow burn’, and what people who don’t enjoy this kind of film would call ‘boring’. I fall somewhere in the middle of those points of view. While I was never strictly speaking bored, there were a few times that I felt as if very little was happening. The film does work hard to maintain a constant sense of unease and tension, and sometimes this works fantastically well, but other times it sadly falls a little short.
Something unfortunately is that The Witch isn’t actually scary. I don’t mean there are no jump scares, which there aren’t, and I don’t mean that there isn’t any gore, because there is a small amount throughout, I mean there’s never really a sense of fear. There are a few scenes that made me tense, but really this film doesn’t work as a horror. This is partly due to some over the top acting that feels like it belongs on a stage and not on a screen, something that regularly took me out of the otherwise highly realistic setting.
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