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The Witch [DVD + Digital]
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A devoutly Christian family in 1630s New England, struggles to survive living along the edge of a vast wilderness. When one of their five children goes missing and their life-sustaining crops fail, they fall victim to paranoia and fear as they begin to turn on one another.
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Knowledge of this historical perspective is not essential to enjoying "The Witch". Certainly, the wonderful acting and gorgeously depressing visuals hold an enticement of their own, as well as an overall sense of impending dread throughout. But, make no mistake, this is not a movie that is one bit concerned with entertaining you. Its only focus is to present a story that relays its original concept and at that, it succeeds brilliantly. Those expecting an all out haunted house "scare fest" are going to be sorely (and perhaps exhaustingly) disappointed. I love horror films of all kinds, and I certainly say "the scarier the better" and can enjoy frightening visuals and jump scares as much as the next person. That is just not what this movie is about. This is a clear vision becoming realized. The argument that it's not a horror movie doesn't hold any weight, either. It most certainly is a horror movie. It's just not a *modern* horror movie. Calling it a "slow burn" doesn't sit well with me, either. That seems to be a label thrown on any movie that wasn't made by Michael Bay. This is a horror film from beginning to end. While it does take awhile to reach visceral climax, remember, to a puritan, losing faith and being damned forever was FAR more horrifying than a witch lurking outside your door. This is THEIR nightmare, not OURS.
The biggest problem with this movie, as with many of recent "hyped" horror movies, is in its advertising. The poster, trailer, and TV advertisements are plastered with positive quotes from reviewers. The problem is that the average movie-goer and horror lover is looking for scares and a good time. They do not understand that these reviewer's opinions are formed within an understanding of the film's concept. The distributor of this movie knew full well that their audience would be limited if ticket buyers knew what they were *really* in for. I can't blame anyone for saying they didn't like this movie. It's not for everyone. It's not entertaining. It is dialogue (and dialect) heavy, with little action. It is certainly disturbing and has plenty of tension, but is not *really* all that scary. But, speaking in terms of the director's vision, it is a realized masterpiece. Give it a chance, you might like it, you might not. It's worth a try. I can't wait to see it again!
I, for one, loved this movie from start to finish. It was beautifully shot, wonderfully cast, acted accurately, and made me feel everything I wanted to feel when I saw the trailers and got my first impressions. I love feeling absolutely helpless in the face of evil, almost like the final episodes of the Berserk anime. I cannot wait to watch this with like-minded individuals in my home. To those who reviewed this and felt nothing well, I don't understand why they watch horror movies, or any movies, to begin with then (perhaps I am overly sensitive?). You have to put yourself in the time period and characters shoes the best you can.
-Spoilers below, please don't read further if you want to enjoy this flick from beginning to end-
Some people say the ending leaves them unsatisfied, sure, the ending has a semi-slow wind-down but its not to a happy conclusion. Its a slow descent into the evils of the time period. It's not meant to be a high action battle vs good and evil. Evil won, it was winning the entire time and after the climax it takes its victim. It's meant to fill you with dread and make you feel helpless in the face of it. Bravo, I say.