Synopsis: “In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty and love to one another.”
Review: This latest Blu-Ray revisit of The Witch is my third injection of Robert Egger’s exquisite horror film (the first of which occurred well over a year ago at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival) and its potency has only intensified with time and subsequent revisits. Like a beautiful cabernet, the seedy psychological trauma of Egger’s feature ages well; its puritanical mythology growing richer, its language more accessible, its context-rich fringes more poignant and context-providing. While a vocal minority have combated the glowing critical reception, they miss the forest for the trees. They misunderstand what true horror is. The Witch follows in the grand tradition of true insidious American horror films a la The Shining. The focus is sharply on the deterioration of mental states and with the help of a sublime cast, Eggers has created just that. I have no doubt that The Witch shall remain a modern horror mainstay and its ability to remain just as harrowing and challenging upon repeat viewings showcases the majestic work accomplished by Eggers and company. (A)
From our initial review:
“What do 1630, a silver cup, Christian fervor and a goat named Black Phillip have in common? The Witch. Unholy goodness through and through, Robert Egger‘s feature film debut is a horror masquerading as a costume drama that’s as beady, black and misshapen as the center of a goat’s eye. Beneath the dirt-stained, leather-bound waistcoats, the perfumed, toity language of the New World, the white bonnets and constrictive girdles, The Witch has a vicious, illicit and suspicious center and though admittedly scaled back on “scares” is deeply atmospheric, deeply disturbing and deeply great.” [Full Review]
Features: The Blu-Ray release of The Witch contains a director’s commentary track with Robert Eggers where Eggers dishes on everything from the technical making of the film to working with the performers to which are his least favorite shots of the film. “The Witch: A Primal Folklore” Featurette (8:28) is an EPK with notable interviews from the cast and crew that casts some light on the making of the film while distinctly leaving you wanting more. The Salem Panel Q&A (27:59) hails from a screening of the film in historic Salem and features Robert Eggers, Anya Taylor-Joy, Brunonia Barry and Richard Trask and is not much more than your standard post-screening Q&A. Also featured is the Design Gallery that showcases the costumes and concept art of The Witch.
Verdict: Even though the features aren’t as rich as we would hope for, The Witch is still one of 2016’s bests and one of the most fascinating horror films of the 21st century. Certainly a buy.