Trying to find new scares in one of the oldest horror genre tropes around can be a difficult task, but writer/director Robert Eggers has found some fresh chills in the deep dark woods with “The Witch.” Winning awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and London Film Festival, the film has been earning some noteworthy applause on the festival circuit, and next spring it’s coming to raise some serious goosebumps.
Starring Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson, Anya Taylor Joy, and Kate Dickie, the film centers on a family living as outcasts in 17th century America, who are slowly torn apart when the eldest daughter becomes suspected of witchcraft. It’s a slow burn film, with a carefully crafted mood, an intense atmosphere, and a strict adherence to the argot of the era. It takes a few moments to get adjusted to its milieu, but once it settles in, it’s hard to escape. Here’s the official synopsis:
New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. In his debut feature, writer/director Robert Eggers painstakingly designs an authentic re- creation of New England — generations before the 1692 trials in Salem — evoking the alluring and terrifying power of the timeless witch myth. Told through the eyes of Thomasin, the teenage daughter (in a star-making performance by Anya Taylor-Joy), and supported by haunting camera work and an ominous score, The Witch is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.
“The Witch” opens on February 26, 2016. Check out the new poster below plus a 10-minute talk from the BFI London Film Festival.