The Witch is a 2015 horror film directed by Robert Eggers, who has a relatively sparse list of directing credits, and primarily does work in production design and costume design. The film centers around a family of Puritans during the early 17th century, excommunicated from their church and living in a remote part of the New England wilderness. After their newborn baby disappears, strange happenings start occurring around their homestead, and the family begins to spiral into paranoia and madness.
The tone of The Witch is further enhanced by the simple, yet highly effective camera work. Admittedly, you won’t find too many surprises; the camera generally remains stationary, and there is little in here that will truly wow you. Nevertheless, the cinematography has this sinister, creeping feeling that bodes very well with the film’s subject material. As Drew McWeeny from HITFIX observes, “It feels like we’re watching something we should not be seeing.” The color palette (or lack thereof) also contributes to the film’s atmosphere: bitter, bleak, muted hues make it seem as though the life has been sapped from the landscape, highlighting the tormented family’s hopeless situation.
Is there anything I didn’t like about this movie? From purely objective, critical perspective, there’s very little in The Witch to find fault with. I do think that I should give a fair word of warning, however: though this movie doesn’t have a whole lot of onscreen violence, is still very unsettling and disturbing in its implications. An example would be when the movie reveals the ultimate fate of the family’s missing baby. I should also mention that this movie is exactly as scary as you want to be. And no, that isn’t meant to knock the film’s scariness overall. This just means that if you’re willing to use your imagination, really invest yourself into the characters, and analyze the fine details, The Witch can become the scariest movie you’ve ever seen. What you put into the movie is directly proportional to what you'll get out of it. If you allow it to, it will worm its way into your mind, gnawing at your subconscious, and certainly make you think twice about going into the forest alone. And as a horror fan, that is about the highest amount praise I can give.