Cinematic Releases: The Witch

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The Witch finally hits wide release tonight and we saw her.  

No!!!! Not a sequel to The Witch!!!!
After an endless wait, The Witch finds herself haunting theaters this weekend as she goes head to head with the religious epic, Risen and the sports drama, Race. Taking its core elements from folklore and darkened tales of yore, The Witch may not be enough for some but will definitely remind audiences how character and mystery can lend a helping hand to a genre that desperately needs some new blood. Firmly resting on a tonal quality of shrouded mysticism, slow pacing, and picturesque framing, the movie rises to the top of the crop of an early year that's been light on great and horrific entries. 

With The Witch, horror returns to the dread inducing woods in a gloomy, low budget feature that sets its own standards instead of abiding by any standardized rules. In a time ruled by PG-13 tropes and lame found footage features, director Robert Eggers stretches outside the bounds of what we normally see and presents a story that exists more in the unseen than extreme gore or graphic detail. His Witch gives us dim lighting, substantial mood, and old world fears of unknown evils lying in wait beyond the edge of the forest. As the film slowly unravels in a droning but heavy feeling of encroaching creepiness, Eggers' theatrical offering lives in a microcosm of parental doom and twisted lurking darkness. While the movie unhurriedly weaves a fable of malaise and foreboding, Eggers also captures man's desire to succeed against the odds of mother nature in a primordial family settlement in New England. 

Damn it!! I hate when you crucify me!
The Witch has a gothic ambiance centered on dreary looking visuals that could not come any closer to looking like paintings come to life. With stunningly shot scenes of the shadowy forest that support the vignette like cinematography of the entire film, this is a beautiful piece of moving art focused on sucking its audience into the moment. The Witch never moves too fast and it never takes its audience for granted. Instead, this is a smart film under the controlled hand of a freshman feature director that has a firm grasp on what he wants to portray on the screen. Breaking all molds of what we typically expect from modern horror, Eggers takes chances with his art, making the evil presence in the woods a deeply wound but totally mysterious being.

The dynamic tone of The Witch may not satisfy everyone and the unintelligible dialogue at times might make this a hard watch for some. Yet, the story is quite interesting based on the fact that we've never seen this before. This is something totally different in an era of commercialism at every turn. The Witch isn't a perfect specimen by any means, but this is a solid shot at someone trying to give us something fresh and new when horror is usually made for teens or is shoehorned into the straight to video formats. If you're into overcast shadows of brooding malevolence, The Witch will at least satiate your hunger for blackened horror with a hint of history. 

If you're into movies like It Follows, this one will be right up your alley. 

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