Movie Review: ‘The Witch’

  • balowulf

    How can you claim that the presence of the witch is superfluous? The witch preyed upon, and exploited, the paranoia and self-hatred of these characters. This is a story about a family encountering a malevolent intelligence that they do not understand and, because of their weakness in heart and mind, it destroys them.

    • Nathanael Hood

      I simply think that the story of a family cannibalizing itself with fear and paranoia would have been more impacting if there was some ambiguity over whether or not there was anything supernatural egging them on.

  • Greg Emilio

    Dude, this is an articulate review. The film came up short for you because it let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and because it didn’t have a socio-historical agenda; the movie was not trying to right the wrongs of an era that we now know to be laughably unjust. However, I think you are unwilling to meet the film on its terms, and, more importantly, to suspend your disbelief. Yes, there is a witch. Yes, the witch appears early on. Is it so different from any other kind of villain being revealed in a film? “Witch” is clearly set up as a folk tale, not a piece of revisionist art like “The Crucible.” And as for its “glacial pace”–that’s simply hyperbole. The film is taut precisely because the villain is set up so early, and because the family is so clearly doomed from the start. Still, I appreciate your analysis of the film. It’s helped me understand it better, and for that I thank you.

    • Nathanael Hood

      Greg, thank you for being so civil in your disagreements. After the comments I got on my 13 HOURS review, this was extremely refreshing. I wish all debates over movies were this polite and friendly! Cheers!

  • Jim

    As someone who hasn’t seen the film, I found this review interesting, but a complete spoiler. Based on the previews, I was intrigued as to whether or not the film truly had a supernatural deity, or was just about religious paranoia run amok. Now I know, thanks to your give-away review.

    • Nathanael Hood

      I understand your frustration. But like I said, we know for a fact that there are supernatural goings-on within the first 15 minutes. What I didn’t spoil was the ending and most of what happens in the last third. So there’s still plenty to be shocked at!

  • The point is, the fact that there was an actual witch made the film pointless, either there are witches, doing all kinds of bad stuff, or there are just people, doing bad stuff but you can’t have both. I also really am confused by people saying this is a feminist film, while the stereotype of the old naked evil woman witch, in thrall to Satan of course, is the big evil of the movie. That is a trope that has been used against women for hundreds of years, decidedly anti-feminist. I do agree that the movie looked beautiful. And I appreciate this review, I am amazed that more people don’t get it.

    • Nathanael Hood

      I have no opinion over whether or not the image of the witch is anti-feminist or not. If anything, the witch has been substantially reclaimed away from such sentiments thanks to the ubiquitous Harry Potter franchise. But I get what you mean.

      • the archetype “witch” is multifaceted, and has certainly undergone more of a popular culture overhaul with for example HP as you note. however the first witch in this movie exhibited all the standardized bad witch markers, so…..could have been a person with extreme mental illness, which is no doubt one reason people were called witches or possessed, however since she could actually fly and snatch babies …….well call me confused again.

        • Nathanael Hood

          I know, right? It makes things even more confusing.

  • Robert Bayer

    My problem with this movie is all its characters other than the witch ALWAYS make the wrong choice. There is nothing to root for or against.

    • Nathanael Hood

      Eh…I can forgive that for characters facing such extreme pressure and paranoia. Nobody made the right choices in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, either.

      • Robert Bayer

        Actually in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE… 1 character made the best choices she could in that film and she didn’t die. It is a better movie that this one for that reason. Why watch puppets who cannot change their fate? That is as dull as it gets.

  • Joe

    The ending was a complete cop-out and ruined what came before. Although I appreciated the film’s technical prowess and the performances, its lack of a single tone bothered me through out. Does it want to be a Bergmaneque/Reeves examination of psychosexual social mores in Puritan 17th century America or merely an homage to the films of Hammer et al? Eggers is a talented technical filmmaker but an immature writer. I also took offence to the outdated notion that somehow the environment is evil in and of itself. In the end Eggers own Puritanesque feelings won out over scientific sense. Better he had ended it on that final shot at the table.