Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Witch (1½ Stars)

I realise that I'm glamorising this film by reproducing the beautifully stylish film poster above. It gives a false impression. I doubt that the woman in the picture even appears in the film.

The film begins with a man and his family being banished from a settlement in New England. It's not clear why they are being banished. Maybe the man, William, is more religious than the other settlers. Maybe he just has a different style of religion to the others. In the history of mankind nothing has done as much to divide people as religion. For the rest of the film William, his wife and their four children are struggling to survive in a small cottage they've built themselves, living from the crops they harvest.

A fifth child is born, but he disappears under mysterious circumstances. William insists that a wolf took the baby, but the daughter Thomasin blames a witch. For the majority of the film we see the children and the parents blaming one another of witchcraft. At first glance it might seem that the film is just about paranoia and religious fanaticism, but there really are witches in the forest.

"The Witch" was made with good intentions, but it suffers from its uneven pacing. It moves so slowly for so long that when there is finally a burst of action it seems out of place. There's too much emphasis on the religious mania of William and his family. The film would have been better if it had concentrated more on the real witches. The brief glimpses we get of the witches in the forest are unsatisfyingly short.

It's a very dismal film, poorly written and poorly directed. Only the good acting of the principal characters gives it any value.

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