The VVitch (2015) is a horror film in the truest sense. It doesn’t try to scare the audience by using jump-scares. It isn’t excessively gory, at least not until the end, and it tries to build up the horror and mystery, instead of throwing it in the audience’s face first. The VVitch isn’t so much of an unexpected surprise, as it is a masterfully made horror film. Like most well-made horror films, it isn’t even solely about the horror itself, as much as it is about a bunch of issues affecting everyone else.
The VVitch is set in New England, in 1630, and tells the story of two devote Christians, William (played by Ralph Ineson), and Katherine (played by Kate Dickie), who live in the wilderness with their five children. When their youngest son is taken from them, and killed, they begin to turn against each other as they suspect that somebody in their midst is in fact practicing black magic.
What I largely liked about this film was its build-up in establishing the setting and atmosphere. By having The VVitch set entirely in the woods, director Ralph Eggers is able to create a much more complicated atmosphere by the grey perfect cinematography and many of the scenes being shot with no sound except chilling and intense music. These types of scenes, particularly when characters are being struck down by the witch, create a lot of real tension as the main characters grow increasingly paranoid and their growing insanity becomes all the more believable.
The actors’ performances added greatly to the film’s believability. In particular, Ralph Ineson, who plays the father, gives a very “dry performance” in tone, especially since he has to deliver a lot of Shakespearian-styled dialogue that was the norm for the time period. So, seeing him turn completely ballistic by the end, was insanely great. Also of note, is Anna Taylor-Joy, as the eldest daughter who is accused of being a witch, is great in her role.
The VVitch has a very slow pace, lacks modern day horror convention, and contains some pretty graphic images of characters, a dog and baby being killed, which I thought was a bit unnecessarily shocking, But, that aside, The VVitch is a very well-made horror film that works. It’s definitely recommended, unless, of course, you have a weak stomach.