One from the to watch pile…
The Witch (2015)
Film: My journey to see this film is an unusual one. I heard a single track of Mark Korvan’s amazing score, I can’t remember where (it was possibly on the soundtrack-centric, and well worth listening to podcast The Damn Fine Cast) and had to grab the entire soundtrack, on vinyl of course!
Korvan uses a bizarre mix of instruments, including the waterphone and the hurdy-gurdy, to create this soundscape that is bizarre and horrifying, but more importantly, intriguing. As soon as this was released on bluray, I was at my local retailer, eftPOS card at the ready!
Was I disappointed? Not at all!
Set in the early 1600s in New England, The Witch tells of a family who are kicked out of a walled town due to their religious practices differing from the rest of the town. They travel a day by horse and cart away from the town and set up a small farm just outside a large ominous forest.
The eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing with the youngest child, a baby when it is snatched by something from right under her nose… literally. Her father, William (Ralph Ineson) and mother, Katherine (Kate Dickie) tell her and the other children, Caleb (Harvey Grimshaw) and twins Mercy (Ellie Granger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) to stay away from the forest.
The isolation and the pain of the missing child start to form cracks in the family’s relationships, and when Caleb disappears, accusation of witch-hood start flying, but is the threat from within the family, or if there really something evil in the woods?
Immediately I have to compliment this film on its visuals. It feels ‘wet’ to watch, and there is this amazing, cloying, claustrophobic feeling throughout the whole film, and that’s an emotional claustrophobia as well!
The acting is all top shelf, which is a great feat considering almost half the cast are young children (I don’t count the baby as one of them, I mean, the actor just played a baby… I hope they don’t get typecast!) and they had to contend with goats, which aren’t the most compliant of animals to have in a film. Also the whole film is performed in Ye Olde English, which takes a few minutes to acclimatise to, but once you get it, you completely understand.
Writer/director Robert Eggars has created a complex film with a very deliberate pacing that is visually beautiful, audibly disturbing (with the aforementioned Korvan’s score) and leaves the viewer relieved with its freeing resolve after spending 90 minutes with a family whose religion and lifestyle is so oppressive.
Format: The review copy was an Australian, region B bluray which also comes with an Ultraviolet copy. The film is presented in a quite beautiful 1.66:1 widescreen with an amazing DTS-HS Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.
Extras: Unfortunately, none.