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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
HOME / STORY

The Eyre Witch Project

Jorge Ignacio Castillo
Published Thursday February 18, 06:52 pm
Historically accurate horror or unbearably dull? Both!

The Witch
Opening, Hopefully
1.5 out of 5

It’s getting glorious reviews but I fail to see the point of The Witch, a gimmicky, pretentious horror movie that only succeeded in boring me to death. Disappointing, especially considering the spotless record of art-house horror as of late (Goodnight Mommy, It Follows, The Babadook).

Based on testimonies and records from the New England pioneers, whose puritanical views led to a vicious witch hunt, the film chronicles a family’s descent into madness after being exiled from their settlement. Following the kidnapping of their youngest and a series of unfortunate events, the clan begins to suspect the eldest daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy) may be into witchcraft. Of course, most of the tragedies that ensue can be explained rationally, but nobody is willing to listen.

First-time director Robert Eggers uses Old English for the dialogue, an approach that instead of accentuating the strangeness of the tale makes you wish for earplugs. Eggers’ notion of horror involves a lot of yelling and hysterical behavior. The actors are strong and committed, yet their characters are so unkind it’s difficult to care for them, even the twin toddlers.

While the movie is undeniably successful at recreating pioneer life (The Witch takes place in 1630, close to the events depicted in “The Scarlet Letter”), the attention to detail only accentuates the distance with the audience. Furthermore, since the filmmaker tries to walk the line between realism and otherworldliness, The Witch feels half-baked as horror movie.

In fact, it’s closer to a scholarly paper without any actual appreciation for the genre.

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