Periods and possession: The Witch demonstrates why horror’s renaissance desperately needs some new ideas // Monumental Pictures

“Writing about Robert Eggers’s The Witch has left me in a state of ambivalence-induced, continuous procrastination. There’s a part of me that wishes I didn’t feel like it was such a chore, for on a technical level, there’s plenty to admire about the film. Eggers has applied a mercurial attention to detail here, creating a film that, despite its many trappings, rarely slips up in maintaining its delicate illusion. The sounds, whether a metallic hiss of blood into a bucket, or scurrying conversation in the foreground, is immersive. The period dialogue, which I feared was going to be performed with about as much naturalism as the middle ages-set musical I performed in with my grade six class, is spoken with deft skill and understanding by the whole cast, right down to its youngest members. The performances, particularly Anya Taylor-Joy’s lead turn as Thomasin, are intriguing, and speak larger volumes than what Eggers has written on the page. But despite the mountains of perfectly researched period detail and the skill of the performers, as a horror film that critics have been quick to heap praise on as “rattling” and “bone chilling”, is The Witch successful? No, it’s not. Unless you find teenage girls horrifying, that is.”

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