Thanks to those who voted on Twitter this week for #PZPoll! The VVitch won with a supreme lead! To be completely honest, I’m glad! I’ve been dying to watch this film since its release in February 2015. A historic witch piece? Definitely a Halloween must and it didn’t disappoint!
The story is set in the 1630’s and is advertised as a New England Folktale. It definitely gives us the feel that we are experiencing an unsettling legend in the making, something that will keep people out of the woods for centuries. The trees seem to scream in the film, much like they seem to screech in other films. All I know is that I won’t be going on a hike anytime soon after watching this!
If you haven’t seen the film yet, the review is about to get spoiler-rific, you’ve been warned 😉
The New England family moves to a secluded farm at the start of the film and strange things start to happen immediately. Thomasin, the eldest daughter and the main storyteller in the film goes out to the woods to play with her baby brother. The baby is there one moment and gone the next. The father blames it on wolves, but Thomasin knows what she saw. There is a lot of imagery alluding to the baby being used as a sacrifice, but nothing is really shown, mostly just a nude witch rubbing blood on her flesh (why is it witches are always nude? lol)
Soon it becomes colder and crops would not be enough food to survive, William (the father) knows they have no choice but to head into the woods to hunt. Winter is coming, and this line feels even more appropriate with Lysa Arryn herself as the mother, she has this perfectly eerie glare that works for the film…I just wish she had a moon door she could shove the witch into, because the witch is certainly relentless when it comes to tearing her family apart.
Overhearing their parents speak of them starving over the winter, Thomasin and her brother Caleb venture into the woods to find food, there is this whole Hansel and Gretel feel to the scene. There is this sense that they are being lured into danger by the very animals they hunt. Something spooks their horse and Thomasin is thrown, knocked unconscious and wakes to find Caleb gone. With another brother missing on her watch, her family begins to suspect her the culprit and possibly a witch.
Caleb returns not long after Thomasin’s return, he’s stark naked and freezing. He falls into a coma only to wake and throw up an entire apple with a small bite taken from it. It half feels like an allusion to Snow White, but in a much more deadly sense, it’s not sleep for Caleb, he’s marked for death.
Thomasin’s remaining siblings accuse her of witchcraft, and feeling as though all his children might be possessed, he locks them all up in the barn with the animals. The next morning William wakes to find the barn torn open, the twins gone and Thomasin laying amongst dead animals. Her father fears her wickedness true but before he can approach his daughter a goat takes him by surprise and punctures his gut, killing him. When Thomasin’s mother wakes to find William dead and her other children gone, she loses her mind and attempts to strangle Thomasin, forcing her to kill her own mother to survive. The entire film seems like a grand plot to convert Thomasin to the darkside, the woods call out to her from the start, so there was never any avoiding it, she was to join them.
I wouldn’t say this film was particularly scary, it was creepy, it was well crafted, it built suspense perfectly and the actors delivered. It was very entertaining without being gory, or needing a lot of dialogue, the visuals were enough to carry the story and keep your attention.
Although I wouldn’t call it a morality fable, I definitely learned 3 things after watching this film:
Don’t trust goats.
Don’t trust forests.
Don’t trust naked people dancing in the woods at night who talk to goats.
I would give this film 5 out of 5 zombies, it’s an insta-classic, I would so watch this EVERY Halloween!
Join me for next weeks PZPoll and get ready to vote again! Happy Weekend!