The Witch HD Digital Ultraviolet UV Code
The tagline for "The Witch" says "A New England Folktale". This is not just another throw away tag. That is the entire concept of this movie. It's a Puritan horror story. One that puts ambiguity (a la "the crucible") to rest by immediately welcoming the audience to a revised Puritan world where, yes, witches DO exist. The movie goes on to serve as a visual checklist of most every Puritan belief about witches, the devil, and their influence over individuals and society as a whole. Nearly every crisis faced by the family in this film can be sourced to those beliefs. The breakdown of the family, marriage, curses on crops/livestock, evil taking the form of animals ("familiars"), impure thoughts, loss of faith, and, of course, the Devil's desire to get his victims to ultimately "sign his book."
Knowledge of this historical perspective is not essential to enjoying "The Witch". Certainly, the wonderful acting and gorgeously depressing visuals hold an enticement of their own, as well as an overall sense of impending dread throughout. But, make no mistake, this is not a movie that is one bit concerned with entertaining you. Its only focus is to present a story that relays its original concept and at that, it succeeds brilliantly. Those expecting an all out haunted house "scare fest" are going to be sorely (and perhaps exhaustingly) disappointed. I love horror films of all kinds, and I certainly say "the scarier the better" and can enjoy frightening visuals and jump scares as much as the next person. That is just not what this movie is about. This is a clear vision becoming realized. The argument that it's not a horror movie doesn't hold any weight, either. It most certainly is a horror movie. It's just not a *modern* horror movie. Calling it a "slow burn" doesn't sit well with me, either. That seems to be a label thrown on any movie that wasn't made by Michael Bay. This is a horror film from beginning to end. While it does take awhile to reach visceral climax, remember, to a puritan, losing faith and being damned forever was FAR more horrifying than a witch lurking outside your door. This is THEIR nightmare, not OURS.
The biggest problem with this movie, as with many of recent "hyped" horror movies, is in its advertising. The poster, trailer, and TV advertisements are plastered with positive quotes from reviewers. The problem is that the average movie-goer and horror lover is looking for scares and a good time. They do not understand that these reviewer's opinions are formed within an understanding of the film's concept. The distributor of this movie knew full well that their audience would be limited if ticket buyers knew what they were *really* in for. I can't blame anyone for saying they didn't like this movie. It's not for everyone. It's not entertaining. It is dialogue (and dialect) heavy, with little action. It is certainly disturbing and has plenty of tension, but is not *really* all that scary. But, speaking in terms of the director's vision, it is a realized masterpiece. Give it a chance, you might like it, you might not. It's worth a try. I can't wait to see it again!