This is entry 1 in a series of blogs/reviews of what I call the incredibles, a list of games and movies that I think represent the very best of their medium in some way or another. These are purely personal opinions, so if you want to attack them, fine. Just know that I put a lot of thought into every one. If it is successful and people respond to them, I'll post one every week until I run out. I randomized the order, so they're not ranked or anything. First up is The Witch, by Robert Eggers. Enjoy!
Robert Eggers' horror masterpiece The Witch is a film of nouns. A trial. A baby. A forest. A broomstick. A woman. An apple. A rabbit. A raven. And a goat.
More so than even The Blair Witch Project, The Witch represents the stereotypical evil old hag of legend as a force of pure malevolence, as something to be feared, able to effortlessly turn everything the unfortunate group has against them. Traces of distrust are amplified a hundredfold. Guns misfire. Crops refuse to grow. Long-forgotten grudges boil to the surface. Religious beliefs are used as weapons instead of shields. From the instant Thomasin (played with exemplary restraint by the beautiful Anya Taylor-Joy) and her kin are banished from the plantation, the spectre of misfortune and corruption hangs over the film, as thick as a fog, assuredly palpable in its existence. What might have otherwise been a quaint, idyllic piece of land is transformed into a foreboding hellscape by a carefully muted color palette, extraordinary use of space, and Mark Korven's delightfully unhinged score. The acts and speech of the once-close-knit family graduate from merely tense, past irrational to borderline indescribable at an alarming rate.
The performances are uniformly excellent, sometimes to an unsettling degree. Watch for any scenes in the cabin's attic to find the clearest evidence; what these actors manage to do is harrowing in its effectiveness. Aside from the aforementioned Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson as the father William is truly marvelous. The range of emotions he has to portray in the script encompasses pretty much the full negative spectrum (often switching gears at a moment's notice), and he never falters. But this isn't to downplay the skill of all of these performers, since every character gets their turn in the spotlight at one point or another. It really is quite something.
Unfortunately, to go into too much more detail about the actual plot is difficult, since nearly every event, major and minor, has a significant impact on the characters that are the center of the narrative. To reveal that there is, in fact, a real witch cursing the family is not a spoiler (it's revealed in the first fifteen minutes). And suffice it to say that if you are knowledgable in eastern United States folklore then a good amount of what transpires will seem familiar. But as usual, what's important is not the story that's told. What matters is how the author tells it, and The Witch was blessed with a wonderful one.