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Sundance Winner ‘The Witch’ Unleashes Terror on a Puritan Family (Trailer)

Sundance Winner 'The Witch' Unleashes Terror on a Puritan Family (Trailer)

The best film I saw at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival was Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” a super-stylish, super-scary, witchy brew of madness that bears the mark of a seasoned auteur.

Now that the film has been shuffled to early 2016 release (boo) from A24, “The Witch” also has a new trailer (below). Painterly images, ye-olde English, oozing ominous portent and pitch-perfect period detail drive chilling “The Witch,” tale of a family of 17th-century New England settlers pushed to hysteria and violence by the malevolent, titular force nesting in the woods. Anya-Taylor Joy gives a breakout performance as the teenaged daughter of puritan parents, played by the brutally committed Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson.

This is the most exciting and important (and not to mention genuinely horrifying) American horror film since “The Blair Witch Project” blew up Sundance in 1999.

READ MORE: 5 Films That Influence ‘The Witch,’ Sundance’s Scariest Horror Movie

Variety:
“A fiercely committed ensemble and an exquisite sense of historical
detail conspire to cast a highly atmospheric spell in ‘The Witch,’ a
strikingly achieved tale of a mid-17th-century New England family’s
steady descent into religious hysteria and madness. Laying an
imaginative foundation for the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials that would
follow decades later, writer-director Robert Eggers’ impressive debut
feature walks a tricky line between disquieting ambiguity and full-bore
supernatural horror, but leaves no doubt about the dangerously
oppressive hold that Christianity exerted on some dark corners of the
Puritan psyche. With its formal, stylized diction and austere approach
to genre, this accomplished feat of low-budget period filmmaking will
have to work considerable marketing magic to translate appreciative
reviews into specialty box-office success, but clearly marks Eggers as a
storyteller of unusual rigor and ambition.”

The Hollywood Reporter:
“Writer-director Robert Eggers’s debut feature impresses on several
fronts, notably in the performances, historical feel and visual
precision, but the overall effect is relatively subdued and muted,
probably too much so for mainstream scare fans. With its novelty value
and presumed enthusiastic critical support in some circles, however,
cult status and nice returns in smartly judged specialized release look
likely.”

Indiewire:
“The authenticity of these characters’ struggles is complimented by an
expressionistic style that extends their emotional state to the world
around them. With its murky, candlelit forest scenery and the mysterious
cult antics found within, ‘The Witch’ calls to mind the similarly
disorienting storytelling approach of Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List’ by way
of ‘The Crucible.’ Ultimately, though, Eggers is primarily indebted to
Stanley Kubrick for the movie’s haunting cinematic tapestry, with the
grey-toned imagery of the menacing woods matched by a shrieking
orchestral score and elegant framing strategies that create the sense of
a fully defined world.”

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