The Witch: Movie Review

 

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So let’s say you are a seventeen year old girl and you live in Puritan New England, circa 1630. Your family are radical separatists. In fact, they are so pure, even the Puritans can’t handle them. Your family is banished from the colony. For being too religious.

Forced to live out in the wildest of wilderness, your life pretty much sucks. You do non-stop chores from dawn till dusk. This includes stuff like washing clothes in the river and grinding corn.  You have no time to yourself, no chance to voice your own opinions, no creative outlets. “Women should be seen and not heard.”  Then of course, there is that pesky problem of your budding sexuality…

Your father is clearly nuts. All he does is chop wood and quote the Bible. All day long. Your young siblings are acting strange. Your mother is also nuts. She talks of sending you off to be a maid for some other family, where you will have even MORE chores to do.

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Your family are Calvinists. They are very concerned with Heaven and how to get there.  They insist upon living a pious (read: dull, boring, repressive) life in order to reap their heavenly rewards.  The only trouble is — God has already chosen His elect and you may not be one of them. You will not find out until you die.  All your piety could be a big fat waste of time and you just may end up in Hell.  It’s a real game of Russian roulette, eh?

Then along comes this goat named Black Phillip…

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The question here is not WHY would a Puritan woman sign a blood contract with the Devil. The question is WHY WOULDN’T SHE?

This film is beautifully shot, meticulous in historical detail, and a spine tingling, psychological thriller!  Now out on DVD.

“Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”

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15 comments on “The Witch: Movie Review

  1. Ryn says:

    I liked the strangeness of this movie, the psychological aspects where it doesn’t actually show much but rather gives the viewer scenes where things/ideas are guessed at. I liked that aspect. However, of course, being what I am, I hate the fact that when colonial-era witch movies come out, whether historically accurate (as far as religion, clothing, scenery, etc.) or not, the witch is usually depicted as deplorable, doing insanely evil and horrid things. In this one, SPOILER ALERT, the hag who mashes up the baby. That was really the only part of the movie that I felt was a bit overboard. Now, I realize people of this era were convinced that was what witches and other evils did, was hinted at in some accounts (surprisingly, though, not in any witch trial accounts from this historical time in the US), and obviously helps the viewer get into the mood and tone of the movie. But it definitely was disturbing. Then there’s Black Philip, which goats were never accounted as being familiars or housing the spirit of the devil, but I really enjoyed the symbolism and use of the black goat. I believe the goat actor who played Black Philip will go on to star in other films. At least I hope so, he’s a handsome fella! But I agree on one point: the film does keep one guessing and trying to figure out just what’s gonna happen. But it could’ve been one of the chickens or livestock, and not the baby. It could’ve worked. 😉 great review though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ryn! I share your sentiments, and I struggled a bit with this review… When the movie first came out I had written an angry rant (Let Them Be Scared) precisely about the stereotypes of ‘evil’ witches. I will link it here: https://witchlike.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/let-them-be-scared-haxan-and-the-witch/

      So I totally understand that. But when I finally watched the movie, I took Thomasin’s perspective, as I have often thought about these poor New England girls and women. The whole ‘Witch Scare’ and Burning Times were (imo) instituted by European religious & political structures. It was about obtaining money and power. Nothing else. And folks were superstitions and vulnerable back then… However, upon watching this movie, I was so taken with the art and drama of it. A definite creep fest! 🙂 I really wanted to give kudos to the (very smart) director and actors.

      Agreed about Black Philip. Bring him on!!! 🙂 Thanks again for your comments!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ryn says:

        No problem, Christine! And oh, I agree 100% about the nature behind the witch hunts, trials, etc.!

        And I also read some well-written interviews between the director and writers (forgive me I never bookmarked the link so I can’t find where I read these articles), on their initial idea for the film being “what if this whole version of ‘history’ was actually REAL? What would THAT world have looked like?”, so seeing the film as that kind of artistic expression helped me cope with that creep factor you so fondly expressed 😉 And I do love the dreary monotonous color scheme of that world; it brings out that kind of nature.

        And so it was for sure the power/control hungry Puritanical belief system as well as the bickering over finances and social status of one’s neighbors back then that stemmed it all.

        I will be sure to check out your link, I’m interested in reading the angry rant review! 😉

        Blessings Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Vicky V says:

    I haven’t seen this movie yet but I have watched the first episode of the series Salem. This series also explores the notion that witches were real and the servants of satan. I’m not sure what to make of this direction witches are taking in film and tv but I will explore it further!
    Agree with your sentiment though. If I had to choose between christian piety and slavery or a devilishly handsome black goat, I know what my choice would be 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Black Phillip has gotten very popular hehe 🙂

      The idea of ‘evil’ witches will always fuel the Hollywood machine — as long as people like to be scared out of their wits 🙂 Historical witchcraft is of course nothing like the that. (It would make for a rather dull series I guess.) I will have to check out ‘Salem’!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would love to see this movie! I am totally out of it when it comes to moves, etc. So I have not heard of it. I’ll have to look into it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. filmsCine says:

    This movie petrified me, the musical score more than anything. And Black Phillip’s whispering.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. greenpete58 says:

    Thank you for liking my post “Witches, Wizards, Puritans and Periwigs.” I think I’ll check out “The Witch,” thanks to your review. Sounds like this one is somewhat couched in reality and history, unlike so many commercial vehicles from Hollywood. If you’re a reader, and haven’t read it yet, I think you’d like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic “The Scarlet Letter.” Lots of feminism, and sin…but that’s only the surface (Hawthorne’s ancestor was a judge during the Salem witch trials, the only one who never repented).

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! If you watch the movie, let me know what you think! Yes, it is horror, but based in some reality…

      I have read The Scarlet Letter, albeit many years ago. I liked it, may be due a revisit. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      Like

  6. Colin Newton says:

    Fun review. To answer your question–as best as I can–I suppose the reason a poor Calvinist girl in the New World wouldn’t want to “live deliciously” is because her entire framework of reality has been against any sort of material yearning. Thomasin deciding to do just that would be as, societally speaking, crazy as you or I giving up our phones and building a thatched hut in the woods to live a life of isolated contemplation. The genius of this film is forcing the audience to accept reality as a settler in 16th century New England would.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that is true. I suspect a lot of them were yearning for more. (Which I believe became evident during the Salem Witch Trials, as the accusers were doted upon.) It was a brilliant movie!

      Thanks for your awesome comments and have a happy Halloween! 🙂

      Like

  7. cinephile says:

    I write blogs and reviews on films.Please spare some time and check it out.Need Support.Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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