I went to see The Witch today. I’d wanted to see it on Friday, but that didn’t work out as planned (see yesterday’s post.)
I was expecting a creepy, spooky film. Someone had said something about how Stephen King raved about the movie (but I haven’t seen the actual quote myself, so maybe not.) My mom made plans to see it with some of her witchy friends, which is odd, since she doesn’t like horror movies.
The movie is billed as a “New England folk tale,” and at the end, it stated the movie had been cobbled together from several period folk tales and witness accounts of witchcraft. Some of the dialogue is apparently lifted directly from these accounts.
A family, headed by the super-religious but otherwise borderline-useless William, is banished from the plantation where they’ve lived and worked. The reason isn’t entirely given, but it has something to do with Daddy Dearest’s extreme religion. They strike out into the wilderness.
The film then skips ahead an unspecified number of years. The family has built a farm-type establishment where they grow a small patch of corn and raise chickens and goats. For some reason, the family doesn’t hunt for meat, and Daddy Dearest doesn’t mention that he’s purchased traps. Then the new baby poofs into thin air, and the family starts breaking down.
It was…meh. I don’t exactly regret seeing it, but I kind of wished I’d waited and gone tomorrow, when tickets are cheaper.
Visually, the movie is quite lovely. And it pokes a bit at the hypocrisy of entitled, uber-religious folks. The entire family is deeply religious, but each person is also a”sinner.” Daddy Dearest keeps secrets from his wife. The oldest boy lusts after his big sister (the poor kid is on the cusp of puberty and isolated with his family, so it’s not like he has options.) Big Sister played on the Sabbath. Little things, really. No one’s a murderer or rapist or anything. Just…typical flawed people. If anything, it’s a religious studies essay and not a horror movie.
(One of these days, I’ll unleash my rant about how just because a book/movie/TV show has a witch/werewolf/vampire/ghost/whatever doesn’t mean it’s horror.)
But that’s…about it. I suppose the props and clothing are accurate to the time period, but American history is not usually my preference.
The story itself was rather flat. I was quite bored for about three quarters of the movie, and the climax was when it started to get interesting (but not thrilling.) I pondered taking a nap, but I didn’t in case I missed the exciting bits. By the way, I’m still waiting on those exciting bits. It didn’t even have a general creepy vibe. The strange stuff would happen in short bits (I want to call them “bursts,” but that makes it sound too exciting,) and then the strangeness would fizzle out as the story dragged on and on and on.
Maybe it’s because the writer/whoever fitted together the pieces of various folk tales. Hard to say.
The good news is that when I was texting my mom afterwards, she asked if she would survive the movie. I said yep, and warned her that since it’s early New England, the witchcraft is tied to devil-worship, but that’s standard for movies from that period. And she just got home from the theatre, and she not only survived, she has basically the same opinion of it as I do. Well, she got creeped out.
I’ve definitely seen worse. Devil Inside and The Creature spring to mind. So see it if you want. Just don’t go in with high expectations.