William and Katherine (Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie) lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children including their daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy). When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. This leaves the family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.
This was also the earliest screening of any film I’ve ever seen with it not being released until February 19th. This definitely wasn’t my first choice but when this kind of opportunity presents itself, you take it. Now the film is about a devout, Christian, New England family in the 1630s. William and Katherine (Ineson and Dickie) and their five children, including their daughter Thomasin (Taylor-Joy), live on the edge of wilderness. The family soon begins to turn on each other once their newborn son disappears and when their crops begin to fail. Their sudden vulnerability now may leave prey for an inescapable evil. The first impression you get is how authentic this film is to the period it is portraying. From the dialogue, to the costumers, and the scenery, everything looks and sounds the way it should and did a good job at making you feel like you were there. I do admit that the strong accents took me a while to get used to. During that time, I couldn’t understand what the characters were saying so it was hard for me to tell where the story was going. This wasn’t the only reason for this as I found the film to be on the slow side. I would have liked if the film had introduced the main conflict (the film’s title should be a major spoiler here) a little earlier than it did, instead of focusing on the family and their various troubles. I understand that they are meant to accentuate the tension amongst the family members and to help us understand them better but the whole witch part just felt a little tact on. The film just felt like it was just about the family and them trying to survive in 1630s New England. Despite often not knowing what was going on, suspense and tension were always there. This came primarily through the excellent soundtrack which did a great job at always making everything feel creepy and spooky. The tension came from the film’s family dynamic as you never really knew how things stood as they kept blaming each other for what was happening to them. The acting here was good all around and really captured this beautifully. The only real thing I didn’t like about this film, and it’s a big one, is that it did not make much sense to me other than all the family stuff. Maybe it’s because of my personal problems with the start but all of the witch stuff didn’t make too much sense to me. I primarily did not understand the first scene but there were also a series of smaller things I didn’t quite get such as the connection between the witch and the family, anything about the witch herself, and the ending just to name a few. Overall, this was an okay horror film which was saved by its general tension and ambiance.