Robert Eggers’ The Witch: A New-England Folktale is not only a masterpiece of horror and one of the best and most gorgeously crafted films to have been released in 2015, it is also one of my favorite films. Cinephiles love Eggers’ debut feature because of its technical beauty and depth and history buffs love it because Egger’s screenplay is taken directly from early New England folktales and actual court trial records, as well as personal accounts. Horror buffs love The Witch because, despite its simplistic storytelling and period setting, it is genuinely horrifying. Stephen King has been quoted as saying that the film “terrified” him.
A devout Puritan man (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Katie Dickie), and their children are exiled from their close-knit religious community after they are accused of preaching heresy. We don’t know the nature of the heresy, but, we do know that the man, William, stands his ground and gladly moves his family to the New England woods. Split’s Anya-Taylor Joy is William and Katherine’s oldest child, Thomasin. She is out in the fields playing peek-a-boo with her infant sibling and he vanishes. Following this event, Thomasin, her three younger siblings, and her parents are plagued by one horrific event after another. All the while, an old naked woman, covered by a black cloak and hood, moves around in the background.
It is a disturbing tale, certainly, but it is also a masterpiece. I had a hard time looking away from the bloody, wicked content because, frankly, much like the Hannibal TV series, it’s just too damn gorgeous not to look. Watch The Witch if you dare. If you do, you will never look at a goat or a bunny the same way again.