Horror films are my jam. Lately though, as almost anyone with a pulse knows, there's maybe three or four good horror films that come out in a given year. The first big one for 2016 is definitely "The Witch."A bleak, dark, dreadful horror that builds tension from the opening scenes of the film until the credits roll. This film builds tension much like "It Follows," but it's much better at conveying the fact that nothing is going to get better for the family whatsoever. "The Witch" is one of those horror films that nags at you because it truly has nothing redeeming that happens at all over the course of this, just pure creepiness.
"The Witch" follows the story of a man named William (Ralph Ineson) in New England in the 17th century, who is exiled from a Puritan plantation. He and his, now banished, family-- wife, Katherine (Kate Dickie), daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), son, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) and fraternal twins, Mercy & Jonas (Ellie Grainger & Lucas Dawson)-- build a farm next to a forest. After several months, Katherine has a baby, Samuel, and one day while Thomasin is playing with him, he vanishes. A witch has taken the baby and Katherine now spends her days praying and crying. Things continue to deteriorate with the entire family as William and Katherine begin to have martial problems, a black goat, Phillip, that wanders onto the farm, begins to make the twins act crazy and Caleb even gets lost in the woods and comes back in miserable shape. William and his family are going through the toughest time of their lives, but will they make it through or succumb to darkness.
"The Witch" is a horror film with the best atmosphere that I've seen in forever. The dark and grey tones, the ominous and eerie score and the cinematography is what makes this stand out above other horror films as of late. The establishing shots of the farm and the forest are beautiful. It gives that sense of dread, while making you think, "I'd never want to come across this forest on a hike." The score that accompanies this is great as well. There's no points where jump scares are employed and the tension that the music brings is truly unsettling. The acting is fine. Ralph Ineson is pretty good as William. He brings that sense of urgent to every scene and he gets better as William descends into madness. Anya Taylor-Joy is also great as Thomasin. She is the last bastion of innocence left in this neck of the woods. While the "did she, didn't she" aspect kept the mystery of the witch in the forest alive until the end. The deaths are outstanding, especially when you start getting midway and through the end of the film. They're not overdone and they look great. Bloody, creepy and above all, realistic. The supernatural aspect is there but understated as well. You see the witch for a moment, black goat Phillip, is a great medium, and watching the family descend into madness is satisfying.
"The Witch" is a great atmospheric horror film that relies on it's look and tension. It's built so well that you're in a complete state of uneasiness throughout the duration. The story is fine and the acting is alright as well, but it's the menacing feel, the dark tones and the looming feel of death is what makes this horror work. There's nothing "good" about this film and that's what makes it so great. If you're in the mood for a great looking horror film, that makes you uncomfortable from start to finish, then "The Witch" will be perfect for you.