Published on February 24th, 2016 | by Ken Cosentino0
Why I Enjoyed “The Witch” (and maybe you didn’t)
This is not so much a movie review as it is an analysis of the overall reaction to the film. THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS.
This past weekend I went to see “The Witch” a film by Robert Eggers that has a lot of people talking. The film has received mixed reviews from a broad audience, and because I thoroughly enjoyed it, I felt the need to throw my hat into the ring.
I have read dozens of audience reactions on social media and Rotten Tomatoes, and it appears that “The Witch” left the average viewer unsatisfied and even somewhat pissed off. People are saying things like “worst movie ever” and “negative three stars.” These are the same people who have complained that the film was “overhyped” or “falsely advertised.” To these people, I have just one thing to say: Did you watch the trailer? Did you read any of the hype? Did you do any research on the film before seeing it?
Because I did. And what I was expecting is exactly what I got: A slow moving, quiet, subtle folk/horror story from Colonial period New England. That’s exactly what the film is. Where was the overhype? Where was the false advertising? There was nothing in the marketing that said “This movie is packed full of jump scares and monsters!” A lot of people are even saying that it should be called “The Goat” instead of “The Witch” because of the emphasis on the film’s principle mascot.
Okay, so it’s impossible for me to rant about why this was a good film without revealing some of the film’s content…
A lot of people are bitching about that witch is only shown a few times in the movie. They obviously didn’t get it. Again; if you are going into this thing expecting a blood-and-guts over the top movie, you are going to be disappointed. Yes, the witch is only shown a few times. However, Thomasin (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is a witch throughout the entire film. She just doesn’t know it until Satan has cornered her into selling her soul as her only option. That’s how the movie ends. It’s a psychological twist that went over most peoples’ heads. In the theater I was at, one guy stood up at the end and yelled at the screen “This is bullshit! I want my money back!” That’s the type of audience we have come to expect in modern times. As if the theater screen is going to magically refund this guy’s ten bucks…
The truth is that the response to “The Witch” has brought another issue to the forefront. What is sometimes referred to as the “ADD generation”, people who want instant gratification. When their email takes more than five seconds to load, they go nuts. When a text message does not send, they go bonkers. Everything is “now, I want it now!” like Veruca Salt. An entire generation has been spoiled by electronics and we are fed mind-numbing garbage from Hollywood all because these big studios are making lots and lots of money. Big action films with no plot and no character development earn millions at the box office and the game has become more about numbers than the actual content of the film.
So when a film comes along with actual substance, these moviegoers hopped up on sugar and Kanye West, take to the internet to express their expert advice. “This film has no character development” is another one I’ve read. Wrong. There is character development. And if you’ve ever read any of the numerous folk tales that “The Witch” is derived from, you will see just how authentic this film actually is.
And it is scary. Yes, if you can immerse yourself in the world that is created for you in “The Witch” and suspend your disbelief no more than you do with any other film, it’s actually quite terrifying. The entire time the goat is the devil, for god’s sakes, and the main character is (unknowingly) transforming into the witch! In Colonial times, a witch was thought of as an invisible force that inhabits a person or animal whose soul belongs to the devil. Thomasin’s soul belonged to the devil, she just didn’t know it until the end (and we found out along with her). There are a lot of other tidbits thrown in to hint at this conclusion, but really it’s clear as day.
So, to sum it up: If you are looking for a fast paced Michael Bay production, or a slasher with lots of gore… don’t go see “The Witch.” This film would have been a smash hit in the 70’s or 80’s and thought of as a classic. If you are looking for a movie that realistically brings the terror and paranoia that people felt during colonial times about what evils may lurk in the woods, then you will love “The Witch.”