Rarely do first-time filmmakers make such a splash as Robert Eggers did with 2015’s The Witch (Or The VVitch if you’re a purist). The self proclaimed New England Folktale burst onto the scene to critical acclaim. It gave us the new term “elevated horror”, and it gave us Anya Taylor-Joy. It set a new bar for horror and opened the door for other horror directors to rise to that challenge. But did we love it? Mostly yes.
The VVitch follows Taylor-Joy’s Thomasin as her family essentially banishes themselves from a small New England town because the town wasn’t pious enough. As they settle into their new life among the trees, their young infant disappears. Thus starts the downward spiral into madness.
Robert Eggers excels at putting meaning into his films in a non-pretentious way. Sure that’s subjective and people could definitely find some pretense in there (The Lighthouse moreso, I think), but for us it just feels like there’s more to it. Even if you don’t get a reference or a metaphor or a secret meaning in some imagery, you never feel talked down to. Both the Witch and the Lighthouse are enjoyable for their surface story, and broadened by depth you can find if you dig for it. The Witch opened the door, and the Lighthouse strutted through it.
His movies also give you a lot to talk about. The Witch asks; is the witch actually real? Is the story an allegory for sexuality, in particular the sexuality of young women? What does Black Philip represent? Is it the actual devil, or simply the temptation of growth into your own person unhindered by oppression? The fact that it is such a fulfilling watch and also leaves you with talking points to discus is again a testament to Robert Eggers’ totally assured film making.
Lastly we want to call out Anya specifically. We think she’s wonderful and she’s amazing in this, essentially her debut. She cemented herself as a true talent and we’re delighted every time we see her.
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