Posts Tagged ‘The Witch’

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge fan of horror. I read horror novels, I write horror stories, I sometimes write articles examining various aspects of horror, I watch YouTube videos about dark and creepy subjects, I decorate my apartment with horrifying artwork and dolls and stuff, I…well, you get the idea. And of course, I watch plenty of horror films and shows.

And as every true horror fan knows, it can be hard to find good horror sometimes, particularly in the movie department. We fans watch a lot of horror movies that are really bad hoping that they may be good and even give us a few nightmares (or in my case, some good inspiration). I sometimes think of it examining piles of shit looking for gold nuggets, only you can’t tell the difference without special examination (imagine if that was the actual case. Nobody but the really desperate would ever look for good horror movies!). And I’ve seen plenty of bad horror films over the years while looking for good ones. I’ve even written about them, on occasion.

But lately there’s been something I’ve been wanting to try. You see, some of those horror films that I’ve hated, I’ve heard lots of people praising. They tell me the shit is actually gold. I’ve even seen some very thorough examinations of these films, in essays and videos, and the writers/creators of those videos have made me wonder if maybe I should rewatch some of these films, and reexamine my opinions of these films.

So now that I’ve seen It and there aren’t that many horror films coming out in the next couple months that I’m absolutely dying to see and review, I think it’s time to do what I’m going to call the Rewatch Review series. I’m going to watch ten films that I’ve hated and/or given bad reviews in the past, and see if my opinion has been changed. Some I may have watched in the wrong light, others I just think I missed something the first time around. Either way, I’m going to take a look again and then let you know if I’ve got any new thoughts to share.

And with the first film waiting for me at the library even as you read this, I should be able to start watching in earnest soon. It may take some time, depending on how quickly I can get these movies, but either way, you’re going to get something from me.

As for what these films are, I’ll list them below. When I’ve written my (hopefully changed) thoughts on each movie, I’ll post a link to this article. That way, if you want to read all my thoughts at once, you’ll have that option (though I don’t know if anyone’s THAT bored!).

Perfect Blue (1997)
The Strangers (2008)
The Witch (2015)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Oculus (2013)
Evil Dead (1981)
Nosferatu (1922)
The Shining (1980)
Mama (2013)
Whispering Corridors (1998)

Why did I dislike some of these films? You’re going to have to wait till I actually write about them. Haven’t I reviewed a few of them before? Yes. Why am I reexamining them if I already reviewed them? You’ll have to wait till I watch them. And that’s all I’m saying on the subject.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m heading off to bed. Until I write again, pleasant nightmares.*

*And if you have any, let me know. I might write a novel based off it.

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So this film has had some buzz around it for a while. It was made on three-million dollars, earned forty-million at the box office, and apparently scared the likes of His Royal Scariness, Stephen King. Naturally, when it hit theaters back in February, I wanted to see it, but no theaters near me were playing it. When I found out last month that it was on DVD, I immediately went to my library’s website to reserve it…only for some punk to steal my copy when it came to me (a curse upon them, preferably involving witches!). But this week I got my copy, and I sat down over dinner to see what the big deal was.

The movie follows a family of 17th-century Puritans–parents William and Katherine, teenagers Thomasin and Caleb, and twins Mercy and Jonas–as they’re banished from their Puritan settlement because apparently Will’s interpretation of the Bible is too extreme for the community (not sure how that is, but maybe I’m too Jewish to notice). They settle in a field on the edge of a vast forest, unaware that there’s a witch living in the woods.

What surprised me most about The Witch is how it differs from other horror films. It’s not a traditional film, in the sense that there’s a central evil that’s pretty obvious and the majority of the horror comes from that villainous evil. In fact, the titular witch is pretty peripheral in the story, acting more as a catalyst for the horrors of the film. I actually struggled to find the terror in the film until I realized that it wasn’t the witch that was the source of the terror (though she is pretty powerful, visceral, and primordial), but the family itself. Once the witch interferes with this family, they start to slowly implode upon themselves. It’s a really dark, psychological descent into hatred, fear, and suspicion, with the occasional intervention of the witch and a lot of heavy Bible speak. And it is scary to watch what happens to this family.

I also really liked the attention to detail. The filmmakers went to great lengths to find a remote location for the setting, and from there hand-build the house and farm, as well as the clothes the actors wore, and just about everything else. They even had museums consulting on this project, which goes to show their dedication. The authenticity, coupled with sparse lighting and the dirty feel of the place, adds to a very creepy atmosphere. And the music, usually involving a fiddle or zither, invokes 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ability to place us in the story.

Despite how scary it was and the research that went into the film, The Witch did have its problems, though. There are some scenes that felt more like they belonged in a novel, rather than in a movie, quiet moments where characters are thinking and not speaking, and we can’t read their minds.It’s in these scenes that we have trouble connecting to the characters, which is bad when this film is so reliant on its characters to begin with.

There’s also an unresolved subplot involving Caleb and his relationship to his older sister Thomasin that’s never really resolved, and I would’ve liked to see where that could’ve gone. ¬†And like I said, it took me a while to realize what sort of horror film this was, though maybe that’s just me going in with certain expectations and being confused that they’re not being met.

And the old-fashioned dialect, plus the heavy accents and sometimes raspy voices, can make it difficult to understand what they’re saying. I had to turn on the subtitles about ten minutes in just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

Other than those points, though, The Witch is a terrifying descent into religious mania and terror in a dark situation, with supernatural twists and a lot of religious overtones worthy of discussion by theologians (which apparently has happened). I’m going to give this film a 3.8 out of 5, and recommend you watch this one with the lights on while you’re at it. A wonderful debut from writer and director Robert Eggers. I hope I get to see more of his work in the future.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Make sure to read about the giveaway and submit your questions and comments for the Q&A happening on August 2nd (details here). I’ll check in again very soon, believe me. In the meantime, a good night to all.

Hopefully free of supernatural beings, right?