The VVitch comes in with a great deal of hype, not only from critics, but also from film Festivals where it has won the Horror Jury Prize at Austin Fantastic Fest, Most Anticipated of 2016 from the Indiewire Critics Poll, First Feature Competition for Robert Eggers with the London Film Festival, and another Directing Award at Sundance. Given this acclaim, it would be easy to believe that The Witch would be the best horror film since The Descent, and yet, somehow, it’s not even close.
The VVitch, More an Indie Flick, Than Horror Pick
This isn’t to say that the entire film is bad. In fact, the pacing and the acting of Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, and new-comer Anya Taylor-Joy help create a slow build that helps develop the anticipation for a strong, horrific payoff. However, the most glaring issue with the film is that it lacks the satisfying climax that the audience has grown to expect.
Instead, we’re given the deus ex machina treatment, that, while not coming from out of nowhere, seems to lack any substantive basis.
The true horror, and main success of the film, actually lies in taking a look at the family dynamic and how major tragedies can affect their relationships. Unfortunately, however, while this is central to the overall plot, it is not central to the story telling. Throughout the movie, we’re given glimpses of the witch that is haunting the family, causing these tragedies, and watching their disbelief that a greater force could be causing these problems.
As a result, if The VVitch had actually removed the witch entirely, it could have been considered a successful thriller, a la Requiem for a Dream, in which one is able to examine the social consequences of a family in turmoil. However, in not doing this, the film falls far short of expectations for horror fans.
Recommended for: Indie Movie Fans who appreciate dark sociological, character driven narratives and are not looking for a horror film.
The VVitch is out in theaters February 19, 2016.