Robert Eggers directs Anna Taylor- Joy, Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson in this 1630’s New England set arthouse horror.
A beautifully crafted film with a majestic pace, fine performances and a neat ending. It is hard to be critical of a mere genre film that aims to hit the detailed and intelligent qualities of a Kubrick, Ridley and Glazer as such intentions are so rare and so admirable. Sadly though when Eggers does abruptly shift into pure horror we are pulled out of the realism and the creeping dread by blasts of silliness that would be forgivable in a lesser slasher. The Witch sacrifices atmosphere for daft shock images a little too often, and at one point wholesale lifts from The Shining in a sequence that deflated a lot of my investment as a viewer. 40 minutes in and the first good scare is blatantly stolen from Room 237 like towels and miniature shampoos at check out time. Once again a trashier film would be forgiven for cribbing from the best, Eggers error is he shows so much potential to create his own indelible images for the horror canon, so to go for quite so the easy pass feels a genuine cheat. Frustrating as The Witch now stands as the quintessential coven film that everyone somehow forgot to actually make until this point, tying in nicely to The Crucible, The Craft and Suspiria. As an exercise in world building and ensemble directing Eggers now has an excellent calling card, yet for a satisfying night out the rest of us really need to be already in the mood.