Review: The Witch, B
Rated R, 90 minutes
Often, the thing that scares us the most is the unseen, which is at the heart of the disturbing and utterly chilling new horror film, "The Witch." Made on a low-budget and featuring an unknown cast, it's a promising debut for its director and writer, Robert Eggers, who builds tension slowly enough to make you realize you're right in the middle of the drama. In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson of "Game of Thrones"), his wife (Kate Dickie, also of "Game of Thrones") and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (the excellent newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan's faith, loyalty and love to one another. The unsettling horror film "The Witch" is designed to creep you out, and it succeeds marvelously; it's part slow-moving character drama and part-unnerving horror, all finely blended and crafted by Eggers in an auspicious debut. The sets, the costumes and the dialogue are authentic and detailed, with Eggers crafting his dialogue from various manuscripts and diaries about events that took place during the time place. Even more uneasy is the classically-inspired score, filled with high-pitched voices, screams and sounds that will remind you of such films as the original "The Omen" and adding some chilling, anxious texture to the film. Not everyone may care for "The Witch," with overly uneasy, slow plotting, and it certainly requires you to stay until the final act, when all the secrets finally come out and when the movie's most terrifying scene occurs, as you finally get a brief look at the familiar, evil figure behind all of this. Without giving any spoilers away, you won't look at black goats the same after seeing this movie. The low-budget "The Witch" is a fine and frightening horror film that relies on the unseen and not on buckets of gore to scare you.