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The Witch - New horror gaining strong reviews

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This was mentioned in the straight to DVD horror thread but it's generating some really good early word so I thought I'd create a new topic for it. Synopsis in spoiler tags.

 

Quote

 

In this exquisitely-made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family's frightful unraveling. 

 

 

Spoiler

 

Set in New England circa 1630, "The Witch" follows a farmer who get cast out of his colonial plantation and is forced to move his family to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest rumored to be controlled by witches. Almost immediately, strange and unsettling things begin to happen-the animals turn violent, the crops fail, and one of the children disappears, only to return seemingly possessed by an evil spirit. As suspicion and paranoia mount, everyone begins to point the finger at teenage daughter Thomasin. They accuse her of witchcraft, which she adamantly denies...but as circumstances become more and more treacherous, each family member's faith, loyalty, and love will be tested in shocking and unforgettable ways.

 

 

Writer/director Robert Eggers' debut feature, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (and won the Best Director Prize in the U.S. Narrative Competition), painstakingly recreates a God-fearing New England decades before the 1692 Salem witch trials, in which religious convictions and pagan folklore famously clashed. Told through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin - in a star-making turn by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy - and supported by mesmerizing camera work and a powerful musical score, "The Witch" is a chilling and groundbreaking new take on the genre.

 


Comingsoon (from where the above is taken) awarded the film 10/10

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, jon_cybernet said:

Been looking forward to this for ages, any sign of a release date in the UK? 

 

The 11th March, according to IMDb.

 

I'm surprised there aren't more examples of folk horror in American cinema but hopefully this one will be worth the wait (it looks a bit like Eyes of Fire with decent production values).

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16 minutes ago, lordcookie said:

 

I'm surprised there aren't more examples of folk horror in American cinema

 

I wonder if it's the case that the American horror psyche, for want of a better phrase that might actually make sense, lacks depth but compensates with breadth; they don't have Stonehenge, but they have Death Valley. I think there's also an argument to be made that great British horror often draws heavily from the English Civil War, while American horror is more concerned with Vietnam, explicitly or otherwise (in both cases).

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Does anyone know what sort of release The Witch is getting? It's apparently coming out on Friday, and I'd really like to take my sister to see it for her birthday, but none of the cinemas near me have proper listings for Friday. I've absolutely no idea whether I'll be able to go to the Odeon or whether I'll have to look for an arthouse cinema showing it.

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1 hour ago, Scribblor said:

Does anyone know what sort of release The Witch is getting? It's apparently coming out on Friday, and I'd really like to take my sister to see it for her birthday, but none of the cinemas near me have proper listings for Friday. I've absolutely no idea whether I'll be able to go to the Odeon or whether I'll have to look for an arthouse cinema showing it.

 

 

It's showing at the AMC in Manchester so is definitely wider market than the art houses..

 

Been looking forward to this for a very long time.

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I'm off to see The Witch at 10pm tomorrow. Really looking forward to it. Odeon aren't showing it though, so I'm having to go to showcase, which is further away and will cost almost twice as much factoring in parking. But it's a better cinema, so it's a positive outcome overall.

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On 10/03/2016 at 4:16 PM, Scribblor said:

I'm off to see The Witch at 10pm tomorrow. Really looking forward to it. Odeon aren't showing it though, so I'm having to go to showcase, which is further away and will cost almost twice as much factoring in parking. But it's a better cinema, so it's a positive outcome overall.

 

 

We've just got back form a screening.

 

I'll not say much other than I thought it was sensational.

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Oh go on, give us a little spoiler free review. I'be been really looking forward to it for what seems like ages now, so a bit of hype would be perfect.

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I just think from the early hype when it did the rounds at the festivals and the trailer, I've built this up to be the first decent horror since It Follows (which is controversial, because bar the cinematography, it's a pretty cliched and predictable film with lots of inconsistencies) and Borderlands (which I actually loved because of the crap humour and silly jump scares, which I can imagine put a lot of horror aficionados off), because it looks like it's really going for that sense of dread.

 

Shit, I can't wait to see it. And I'm really glad you're all loving it. 

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I'm just back from seeing it. I thought it was sensational, but I can definitely see why it's getting the hate it's getting. It's a film that goes for a building tension and creeping dread over jump scares and CGI monsters, and it doesn't particularly bother with logic, following its own internal momentum instead (and being more realistic for it, IMO).

 

I'm reading a book about the Salem Witch Trials at the moment, and this film really chimes with that: the schizophrenic sense of religious freedom which is also somehow religious oppression, and the utterly nonsensical, unbelievable ways people really acted are front and centre here.

 

I saw it with my sister and her boyfriend. He said he really enjoyed it. She said she thought it was extremely well made and acted, but didn't actively enjoy it for a single second.

 

I think if your preferred horror is the Saw films or stuff like Sinister or Insidious, this might not be for you. A couple of girls behind me got excited about a trailer for 'Friend Request', which looked like the laziest, easiest, most cliched piece of shit imaginable to me. They didn't like The Witch.

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3 hours ago, Jon said:

Oh go on, give us a little spoiler free review. I'be been really looking forward to it for what seems like ages now, so a bit of hype would be perfect.

 

 

It's easily the best horror I've seen since It Follows but, unlike that film, The Witch left us with so much to talk about afterwards. 

 

It's an astonishingly confident, mature, elegant, movie that (mostly) rejects the cheap and easy scares that plague the genre and instead places the viewer right into the mindset of  God fearing pilgrims struggling to survive in the wilderness of an alien country. It's their mortal terror that is so scary. 

 

The atmosphere is extraordinary, delivering an insidious, escalating dread driven by the constant fear of God/Satan/The Unknown that the folk lived with. There is a pleasing ambiguity surrounding some elements which, for me, makes for a much more satisfying movie but (significant plot spoilers)

Spoiler

I prefer to see the supernatural elements as imagined, driven solely by the increasing paranoia and hysteria, rather than actually playing out as if taken as a straight, supernatural film it is simpler and weaker. I also think the final scenes are a little too explicit in spelling out Thomasin's rejection of Christianity

 

There are a few faults but the sheer quality of all of the elements (acting, visuals, sets, score) allow me to not worry too much about them but, niggles aside, It's a striking debut feature and Eggers research into the period, folklore, and the witch scares of the early modern age has paid off in what is clearly a labour of love. The devil is very much in the details..

 

 

 

 

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I definitely think that it's worth going in knowing that it's subtitled 'A New England Folk Tale'; and that it definitely is a folk tale.

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1 minute ago, Scribblor said:

I definitely think that it's worth going in knowing that it's subtitled 'A New England Folk Tale'; and that it definitely is a folk tale.

 

 

I'm the opposite way inclined. I think that tag line is unnecessary and I believe it guides the viewer down a path that is potentially less satisfying. 

 

The religious mass hysteria, and the incredible family destroying paranoia and suspicion, that surrounds historical witch scares and subsequent trials is an interesting enough subject in itself without any supernatural elements being made 'real'

 

It's certainly  a film I'll be thinking about for some time.

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I agree with your spoiler.

 

I meant more in terms of what sort of narrative people should expect. The plot works on the narrative logic of folk tales rather than the usual checklist of horror tropes that people might be used to. It's not a horror film in the way that The Conjuring or Oculus are horror films, for example. I think it's been slightly badly advertised, in the same way Crimson Peak was advertised as a 'normal' horror film while it was actually a gothic romance as much as a ghost story.

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Aah, sorry, I misunderstood.

 

I agree, that line should certainly be taken as a warning/heads up to the modern horror film fan as those expecting conventional horror will be quite disappointed. Hopefully they may also be surprised and pleased but, realistically, this probably won't play well with the Insidious crowd.

 

I wasn't aware that it was getting bad press from those not getting what they expect though..

 

 

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Not from critics - it's getting pretty much universal adoration. But from the general movie going public, I've seen people saying it's boring, not a horror film and so on. A man stood up at the end of the showing I was in and proclaimed it utter shit before stomping grumpily out of the screen.

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These reactions are reminding me of the film Black Death, which was excellent but if the twist here is the same:

 

there isn't actually anything supernatural going on, there is no Witch and it's all based on the misconceptions and hysteria of the characters

 

then I'll not bother.

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Only that it's a twist that's already been tackled intelligently and successfully fairly recently, so wouldn't necessarily make it clever or original. Of course the film might still be excellent, but it would be disappointing for anyone expecting a straight horror.

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If you have any concerns about seeing The Witch you can safely set them aside, unless they're concerns about there not being enough jump scares or musical numbers.

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I absolutely adored it. Definitely more in the wicker man, witchfinder general, Crucible mould of pervading atmospheric drama than gruelling horror. It's just a fantastic movie. In the way it is scripted, acted and shot. It's genuinely heartbreaking in places and completely credible and authentic.

 

Can't recommend it enough

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I loved it too, the only problem being that it very much lies in the shadow of Chris Finch, which was an ever-present threat to immersion in an film where immersion is crucial. Apart from that - which is entirely dependent on how many times you've watched The Office - I thought it was a wonderful piece of work, most notable for never once selling itself short; it could very easily have been ruined by any number of compromises, but it doesn't appear to make any (just compare it to any of the trailers you see before it for examples). It's cinematic craftsmanship, and deserves to be seen and celebrated.

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