10 Movies in 10 Days / The Witch (2015)
I am a huge fan or horror films...from slashers to creature features, I love them all. One summer I started at A in the horror section of Blockbuster and rented every movie until I got to Z (or the equivalent of). Anyway, you get my point. It also establishes the fact that I'm a pretty jaded dude when it comes to scary movies. Cheap jump scares aside, it takes a lot to actually scare me, let alone leave me filled with dread years later. That's exactly what The Witch did. It scared me. It also haunts me to this day. This is also why it made my list of 10 Movies in 10 Days.
Witchcraft in film has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, one with a lot of lows and very few highs. Typically you get the cartoony sort that has no real bearing on the real events that took place here and in Europe. Whether you believe in witches and the practice of witchcraft or not, the reality is that everyone, to a person, did at one time. That level of paranoia is steeped so deep in The Witch that you find yourself wrapped in it like a damp, suffocating cloth. With a script pulled right out of witness testimonies and witch trials, this film immerses you into another world...one not long past us, mind you.
Beyond immersing you into a world with its dialogue (I know that a lot of people had a hard time understanding the way they talked and had trouble following the conversations, but I found myself riveted...like I'd been drawn back in time to witness a period of the past), The Witch brings you realism to the point of near minute levels. Every structure you see in the film, the sets, the farm...all built by hand. And not just built by hand. Built by hand using only tools available during the 1630s when the film takes place. This further pushes you into the feeling that you're witness something that actually happened...that you're witness to a hellish series of events that no one should see.
Beyond the palpable tension and ability to suck you into the world of the movie, The Witch has a villain that will go down in history as one of the all time greats. He hardly needs an introduction, and people who haven't even seen the film probably know his name. Black Phillip. The second you lay eyes on the black goat you know there is evil within. That's why I included the quote above. It's true. You can almost feel it, like waves of revulsion pushing you to flee...to run. But you don't. Your eyes are affixed in a way that's hard to describe. As the events of the film play out and the true nature of Black Phillip is revealed, every bit of air was drawn out of my lungs. I remember audibly drawing in a raspy, horror filled breath as the scene played out, only to have it slowly escape my lungs with my hand over my mouth.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the film, but The Witch is a moving piece of art. Horrific, mainly because these are situations that played out all across New England and Europe, but also because director David Eggers took the time to make his movie as immersive and contextually deep as possible. In an era where shortcuts are the norm, he chose the long and winding road and the results speak volumes. I just have one question before you go. Woulds't thou like to live deliciously?