The Witch (2015)
A New-England Folktale
Did you know there was a new Blair Witch movie coming out? Yeah, surprised me too - and after realizing how little about the first one I actually remember, you would think that I would cash in on that by doing the original or it's mostly down-trodden sequel right? Wrong! You get creepy folktale witch movie without found footage nonsense! How do you like them golden snitches eh?
A family leaves the settlement they are in and sets out into God's country. Being religious, they find a nice little spot and praise their Lord, as they are wont. Time passes, and the family has a little corn farm set up - along with a few goats and chickens. It's very much a rough looking place one would expect of the time period out in the wilderness, but the family does have a new baby they are taking care off. Unfortunately for the family, these lands are already laid claim to - by Satan!
Well, more specifically by a witch who happens to steal the new baby while the eldest daughter is playing peek-a-boo with it (an act of astonishing speed that is never implied capable by the witch again). Although the family doesn't see the witch, or know of their baby's ultimate doom at the hands of her, it seems to mark a downtrend in their luck as plants start to fail - meaning something more than that is going to be needed should the family survive the upcoming winter. The father sells the mother's silver cup - of which he hasn't mentioned - to get traps so the woods may yield the family some meals. The mother by this point is just a giant mess of a woman - generally being in a state of anger or mourning, or on the lucky occasion both.
Lies start getting a bit out of hand with the family as well. It starts with the father simply not owning up to the silver cup's location, but also spreads to the son trying to cover for his father taking him into the woods, and eventually even the daughter claiming to be the witch to keep her younger sibling in line after getting overly-frustrated with her actions. Suspicions spread throughout the family, and when their eldest son goes missing after going into the woods with their eldest daughter, the pot comes closer to boiling over - but what truly steps them into the lands of insanity is when the son shows up again in the middle of the night.
Now, the mystery section of this movie just seems lost on me. From an audience perspective, we see the witch - haggard looking thing she may be. Considering we know that the witch is a real thing, out there in the woods in a shack mushing up babies for skin care and coaxing little boys into her house with cleavage, we pretty well get that "it's not the girl" or whatnot. Sure, the mystery is there for the family since they aren't privy to all the information we have, but up until the hocus-pocus hits the fan, there really isn't any large mystery segments involved.
Music is an interesting thing here. See, it nails it's job of causing tension and discomfort as a person would expect in a movie of it's kind, but when the music is used is the part that makes it baffling. We start the movie off with essentially nothing really going on, and here the score is just whipping up a spine-shiver whirlwind as though it's taking pages from the newest jump scare flick, and at the height of it's fervor we see the family eating dinner calmly at a campfire... Mind you, this is the start of the movie, probably not even ten minutes in. Nothing has happened outside of setting up why the family is leaving the encampment - no witches or monsters or really threatening conflicts at all. Later on, when things start finally picking up, you don't even really notice if any music is going on, because what's on screen is already doing a decent job of keeping you mind-wracked for attention.
All in all, the actors do a wonderful job here, particularly with handling that olden lingo that the movie even mentions is "pretty much straight taken from the fairy tales." Be that as it may, I originally had a very hard time hearing the actors (and didn't desire turning up the audio after being introduced to the musical score), so I ended up turning on subtitles to back me up in those times when I just couldn't make out what people were saying - a hearing issue over a understand-ability issue. There isn't a lot of effects - at least seemingly - as far as digital goes on here. At the very least, it mostly looks practical, and is all handled incredibly well to boot.
This isn't gonna be for everyone - and I'll tell you why, you can bet. It is an incredibly slow movie, laden with the religiousness and superstition of the time in which it's set. The scenes that are dark can be pretty dark - although it's "mood lighting" fairs far better than a movie such as AvP: Requiem in the sense that you can at least see what's going on. Honestly, there isn't even really much mystery to it. Still, for fans of that slow burn, old Grimm style fairy tales of a time once past, I'm sure this little book will get them questioning whose in bed with Satan around them.