New England, 1630: William and Katherine try to lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. 'The Witch' is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own sins, leaving them prey for an inconceivable evil.
Although the film's plot was intended to be taken literally, director Robert Eggers has spoken about a few small hints he and the filmmakers left throughout the film that one might interpret as reasoning behind the events, beyond the obvious supernatural. See more »
Near the end, when Thomasin is seen with her mother, her blood stained dress top is obviously closed with buttons or snaps. Shortly afterwards, when she removes the same bloody garment, she does so by untying multiple string ties. See more »
[before the court]
What went we out into this wilderness to find? Leaving our country, kindred, our fathers houses? We have travailed a vast ocean. For what? For what?
We must ask thee to be silent!
Was it not for the pure and faithful dispensation of the Gospels, and the Kingdom of God?
No More! We are *your* judges, and not you ours!
I cannot be judged by false Christians, for I have done nothing, save preach Christ's true Gospel.
Must you continue to dishonor the laws of the ...
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This is a story set in the early colonial period of New England. It has the authenticity of a well-researched historical drama, up to and including dialogue delivered in a period accent and vocabulary (softened a bit so that it's easy to understand). Instead of drawing on historical events, though, it draws on historical folklore -- it's the story of witchcraft afflicting a family, such as might have been told at the time.
The characters are a very believable, ordinary family, with the sorts of tensions and problems you'd expect from people living a hard and substantially isolated life after being exiled from the local colonial town. They also have period Calvinist attitudes, and the storytelling doesn't present an outsider's view of this or offer a modern commentary, but instead it just displays these attitudes and tells a story from the characters' standpoint.
Their reliance on period folklore means that it doesn't strictly follow modern horror movie tropes, either. It has the slow build of a modern psychological horror/thriller as well as the standard formula where tragedies start from tragic flaws, but the traditions it's drawing on depend on a Calvinist's conception of flaws, and treat witchcraft as a horrible, well-understood occurrence rather than a shocking supernatural surprise. This story applies these perspectives.
It's very well done in terms of writing, acting, and other aspects of execution, so it might have cross-over appeal to fans of horror, folklore, or straight period drama from colonial America.
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