Release: February 19, 2016
Director: Robert Eggers
Written by: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin, Ralph Ineson as William, Kate Dickie as Katherine, Harvey Scrimshaw as Caleb, Ellie Grainger as Mercy, and Lucas Dawson as Jonas
Running Time: 93 minutes
Spoiler Warning for this 2 Year Old Film
The VVitch tells the story of the rise and fall of a humble dirt farmer and his daughter’s eventual embrace of witchcraft. This is not a new film for me, as I had watched it around the time it was first released. At the time, I found it to be an unbearably boring film. When I was asked by the esteemed Grim Lord to review it as part of our site’s October crop of horror films, I figured why not. Perhaps I had been too hard on The VVitch that first time and it wasn’t really as bad as I remembered it. As scene after painfully slow scene ticked by, I came to the realization that I had been correct the first time. At 93 minutes, The VVitch is by no means a long film. Hell, by modern standards it’s downright below average. However, it is one of those films where, due to myriad pacing issues, it feels much longer than its stated running time. At its core, The VVitch feels like a PG-13 horror flick. It’s ugly, it’s boring, and it’s not particularly scary. Apart from an implied infant mutilation very early in the film, there wasn’t much that even bordered on being mildly unsettling, let alone horrific. The film spends far too much time fixated on Jacob’s farm troubles, something that was well established after only a couple of scenes. Rather than going for the typical high contrast, clean, heavy shadow sort of lighting that the horror genre is known for, The VVitch subverts expectations by opting for the standard modern hazy, gray, muddy look. If there is one thing I can compliment, it is the acting. All four of the film’s principle actors do quite well, but it just feels like they are wasted on the material.
For fear that this will devolve into little more than a long-winded rant, Its’ best if I begin wrapping this up. If you like your horror films to be horrific, there just isn’t much to like with The VVitch. It’s a ponderous and frankly pretentious affair that delivers very little in the way of fright. One could derive some entertainment from the filmmakers’ inconsistent commitment to faux colonial English, lots of thees and thous in one scene, then back to good old modern English in the next. Otherwise, leave this one out of your Halloween film rotation.