Reel Shorts | The Witch


A 17th Century family slowly descends into a slow, painful world of religious fervor and horror in Robert Eggers’ debut psychological thriller, The Witch.

Based on an old English folktale, the story revolves around a family banished from their colony who sets up a new life only to find themselves in the grip of unspeakable evil.

Leading a God-fearing life, William and Catherine, along with their five children find themselves alone in the wilderness fighting for survival. One day, their infant baby goes missing which begins their painful descent into madness.

Teenage Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is gleefully playing with her little infant brother when in the blink of an eye, he mysteriously vanishes. Her grief-stricken mother is told that a wolf snatched the baby but is concerned that it could have been witchery.

Further suspicion from the youngest two children begin to point the finger at their older sister after she scares them with an old folktale.

The themes of salvation and overcoming evil abound in Eggers’ tale as each character cries out for divine assistance to squelch the impending horror. Adding to the fact is the family’s insistence that one of them has made a pact with the evil one.

Eggers does a great job of incorporating Mark Korven’s score which intensifies both the drama and dread. The fact that Eggers never reveals the antagonist but their evil intentions is a masterstroke.

The production values and costumes are top-notch and the cast is excellent led by Taylor-Joy, and parents, Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie.

While I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre, the psychological elements, storytelling and Eggers’ ability to keep you on the edge of your seat are a winning combination and makes me eager for what this talented filmmaker has next.

In the best tradition of films such as Rosemary’s Baby or other psychological thrillers, The Witch is the type of story that lives in your subconscious long after the lights have lifted!!!

Grade: B+