Monday, March 28, 2016
After some weeks or months there, calamity begins to descend on them. That's the arc here. No point going into specifics, you can see yourself, except to note that it's a very steady drumbeat of disaster. The period detail, the costuming and so forth, feels totally authentic, which is probably no surprise in a movie directed by a production designer. The language is formal English, with the odd locutions of the 17th century, many a "thee" and "thou" for example. I think what works best are the scenes obviously informed by the documentary "evidence": recorded legends, eyewitness accounts, and so forth. To be clear, certainly it's doubtful they ever happened. Those making testimony against witches all too often had ulterior motives or didn't like women or both. Still, it's a certain window into a contemporaneous view of what we now regard as superstition. The family members simply take it as given that they are locked in battle with dark forces, a remarkable view itself now. They instantly respond in kind, with prayers and supplications and such, on their knees, huddled in a circle. In one scene, the twins suddenly forget the words to the Lord's Prayer mid-session, and then go mute. Very close attention turns to one of the family's goats (as well it should). The Witch is reasonably spooky and shivery, and almost always restrained and quiet, though it gets to some pretty nasty places. At still another point, the oldest boy is in the woods by himself, breaking the family rule, and the witch appears to him as a beautiful, beautiful woman. She beckons him to come closer, come closer, and he does, he does. His whole trip only goes stranger from there. As with "standing in the corner" in Blair Witch, this is what's so scary about witches in the woods. You're liable to run into something that gets you in its power and tells you to do things, and you do them. Even when it's not in your best interest. The Witch is really pretty good.