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#147 - The VVitch: A New England Folktale
Robert Eggers, 2015

In 17th-century New England, a family living on an isolated farm have their existence threatened by a malevolent force in the nearby woods.

The VVitch touches upon a number of potentially unsettling concepts in telling its tale of a puritan family being torn apart in one way or another by not just the presence of a witch but also by their own increasingly strained relationships with one another on a failing farm. It is for these reasons and many others that it generally does a decent job of building dread that persists as everything from tense arguments to horrific injuries build up across the film, though never consistently enough to maintain much momentum. Many factors do feel like they have a similar make-or-break vibe as they spend too much time straddling the line between effective and ineffective. The visuals can be appropriately stark and unsettling, but they can also be drab and numbing. The music and ambience noise can be creepy, but it can also be obtrusive to the point of being somewhat comical. The performers themselves can be seen to struggle with Eggers' attempts to replicate the archaic diction of 17th-century puritans, often lapsing into histrionics in order to compensate for the clunkier parts. While The VVitch doesn't exactly botch its execution and proves darkly compelling for the most part, it's still got plenty of issues that result in me struggling to think of it as a modern horror classic. It may be capable of building up multiple layers of fear thanks to a balance of both evil occultism and paranoid devotion both taking their respective tolls on the bodies, minds, and souls of the family but that only goes far in getting under an audience's skin.