-I saw this in 2018, review draft composed 2018 Nov.-
I have never considered myself to be a horror movie fan. As a kid, I was legitimately terrified by horror (thanks vivid imagination) and as an adult, I find most horror films, especially slasher/gore films to be extremely lacking in substance and cliche ridden. The Witch, on the other hand, proves to be an understated, and yet quite compelling film. Though marketed as a Horror Film, I feel that The Witch should be more accurately be described as a Period Drama with supernatural elements within. Set in the 1600’s New England, it is a rather contained plot focusing, for the vast majority of the running time, on one outcast Puritan family of 2 adults and 4 children, and the ages of the respective children plays a strong role in how the plot unfolds. This family has been forced to leave the local village due to differing religious ideas of the Father vs Townsmen, and they make a farmstead at the edge of some quite foreboding woods. I will say, however, that I found the banishment scene in the very beginning to have quite a chilling atmosphere. As is fit for the era, the costumers have the actors attired in very somber, muted clothing, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread for the father as the family’s sentence is handed down by the grouping of bearded officials. Being familiar with material like The Crucible and other depictions of the Salem Witch trials, there has always been an element of Puritan law and order, when portrayed in film, that sends chills down my spine. In the beginning of the family’s efforts to create a working farm, there is still at atmosphere of industry and a small measure of hope. One does notice, however, that there is a very muted, somber color palette used here, and every scene is washed to a certain extent, by grey tones. This adds greatly to the visual atmosphere of the film, both in hinting at bad fortune , and suggesting to viewers the upcoming hardships of winter the family will have to face. You catch glimpses of a supernatural entity in the first half of the film centering around abduction of the youngest child, but for the most part it is the characters minds that start to turn against themselves and each other as the film progresses. The harshness of the natural environment combined with the particular strain of Puritan Christianity the family follows combine to create a stark atmosphere where the viewer recognizes that something, whether supernatural or simply just failed humanity, is bound to break through. Watch this film for atmosphere and pacing, and you wont be dissapointed.