REVIEW: “The VVitch”


Much of the inspiration for the independent horror movie “The VVitch” was gleaned from folktales, journal entries, and court documents from 17th century New England. Writer and director Robert Eggers faithfully and extensively researched with the intent of presenting the most accurate portrayal of his time period and subject matter. As a result he has made one of the few truly unsettling modern horror movies.

It’s not that Eggers only took plot points from old records. He also sought a deeper understanding of the 17th century mindsets towards religion, family, and specifically for this story, the idea of witchcraft. Add to that an almost obsessive attention to detail regarding the visual representation. For Eggers the authenticity of the language and setting was vital.


The story begins with a family being banished from a Puritan settlement due to the father’s unwillingness to compromise his religious convictions. William (Ralph Ineson), his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), and two rambunctious twins eventually settle on a patch of land near a sprawling forest.

Over time the family builds a sufficient farm and William and Katherine have their fifth child, Samuel. Everything seems well until one day when Samuel seems to vanish while being closely watched by Thomasin. His disappearance begins a stream of unexplained and disturbing events that threaten the family and leaves them teetering close to madness.

I won’t say anymore, but Eggers plays with a handful of compelling themes. One of the biggest centers around the family’s puritanical faith. There is a genuine faithfulness to God  they all share. At the same time the rigidity of their adherence and their inability to live up to their own standards leaves each of them spiritually vulnerable to an evil force lurking in the forest. And it was that same rigidity that caused them to leave the protective walls of the settlement to begin with.


The story’s slow-burn generates a surprising amount of unease. There is an ominous cloud hanging over this family. They can’t see it but we do. With each step forward Eggers adds another layer of suspense and by the film’s end the horrors are so uncomfortably realized that you can’t help but be effected. And it manages this with very little blood and gore. It is the clever melding of setting and subject matter that leaves you squirming.

It seems like I’m often complaining about the scarcity of originality in the horror movie genre. “The VVitch” is definitely original. It features a gripping story sure to be interpreted a number of different ways. The performances are phenomenal. The cinematography is impeccable. The score is haunting. It’s impossible to leave “The VVitch” and not feel you’ve seen something unique.



30 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The VVitch”

  1. I’m with you on the cravings for an original horror movie – this sounds like it could be! Sounds scary as hell. It’s on my to-see list.

  2. Oh, good! I’m glad you liked it. Colonial America with its stress on Good and Evil, God and the Devil, with all the saints and demons, the witch doctors — I’m glad to hear there’s a credible story that could compete with The Crucible, historically speaking. AS far as the horror genre, I hope it’s bone-chilling. Thanks, Keith, I’ll be watching this one soon.

  3. I know that unique feeling that you’re talking about. I think that can be attributed to the fact that “The Witch” is the first restrained horror movie that we’ve received in a while. No gore, hardly any special effects, and no false jump scares. A true horror gem. Great review!

  4. One of the early part of this year’s actually memorable releases. I loved everything about The Witch, and yet, I do share the point of view of some who found the Olde English hard to understand but it just added to the mise end scene so much you just couldn’t have it any other way. Glad that you took a lot away from it as well!

    • Great point. I had some real problems understanding the dialogue at times particularly from the father but I don’t know if it was the Old English or the muffled sound quality.

      • And that, too, is a good point. I thought the audio might have been a bit better, but it wasn’t ever enough to take me out of the experience. A unique horror film, for sure. Too bad it came so early, a lot of people have probably forgotten it already….

      • What did you think about the ending? I saw several people who really liked it but struggled with the ending. I thought it worked perfectly.

      • I actually at first thought the ending was kind of lame but as I started thinking about it more, I grew to like it. Open endings are usually sources of frustration for me, but this one actually did work. I certainly had to give it some time, though. 😉

      • Exactly the same for me. I’m usually not a fan of open endings. This one really worked for me. Not nice and tidy but incredibly effective.

  5. Nice review Keith. I feel like I’m on of the few people with whom this film just didn’t hit. But I think you make good points about why this stood out for you, especially about the themes Eggers explores. And while I think all that is compelling I just didn’t find myself particularly gripped or engaged by it.

    • Honestly, I can completely see how it may not connect with everyone. It is definitely doing its own thing and I feel that if you don’t connect with it early you probably won’t as it progresses.

  6. About the only part of this film I felt kinda missed the mark was the ending, but otherwise I thought The Witch is easily in my Top 10 films of the year (so far). So palpably dread-inducing, I thought the acting across the board was superb (Oscar worthy, ya think?) and the direction reminded me a lot of Shyamalan’s better stuff.

    • I thought the acting was brilliant and pivotal to the movie’s success. I get the issues some had with the end but I gotta say I loved it. Leaves a lot of things to think on.

  7. Pingback: Episode 18 - The Witch: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? - Pop Junk Podcast

  8. I’m with Zoe on this one. A whole lot of potential with not really much satisfaction. I failed to even see the point of this movie. That’s actually why I’m searching reviews of it now. There were 2 or 3 scary scenes and then the rest of the movie is a disappointing build-up to nothing. It looked well-made and very well-acted, but there just wasn’t enough horror to call it a horror film. Could and should have been so much better.

    • I do think the horror label could be misleading. That said I felt it was very creepy. For me there was this lingering cloud of unease and dread. I really liked the way it maintained it and slowly grew it over time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s