TIFF 2015 Review: The Witch
Eggers’ The Witch. Set in seventeenth century England, and with distinct echoes of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the film follows a family’s descent into darkness. William (Ralph Ineson) and his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie of Game of Thrones) are a god-fearing couple trying to raise their family on a farm. Their crops are slowly dying, but the couple uses the aide of their children to reap what they can. After their newborn baby vanishes, the family falls into a depression of sorts. One afternoon Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) makes an offhanded joke to her siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) about practicing witchcraft. Mercy brings this up in front of her parents, which leaves the entire family questioning whether or not Thomasin’s witchery is to blame for their collective misfortune.
The Witch falls into an interesting place. While many are labeling it as a horror film, it really is not frightening in the least. Yet, the film does have an incredibly uneasy atmosphere that pervades throughout. It is this sense of inevitable doom that will keep audiences enthralled in the misfortune unfolding. Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance is revelatory. Though she is surrounded by a talented ensemble, the young actress steals every scene she is in.
Unfortunately, what is mostly a really great film is damped by a disappointing finale. Eggers builds the perfect story in which an ambiguous ending would have been excellent, but instead he continues to hammer the nail on the head, drilling the audience with a final scene that will have many rolling their eyes. That being said, if The Witch is a horror film, it is a great one.