The first half of THE WITCH – slow, rich, slow, unforgiving, slow, naturalistic, and did I mention slow? – is far more successful than the second. There’s a gradual, creeping dread and very little of note that is actually happening. It’s this fear that something might be just around the corner, that we’re just on the verge of a real fright that keeps you on edge here. It’s paranoia over what might happen that gives this story its punch. When the horror finally comes, I’m sorry to say it’s not that successful or that scary. Horror films have scared us with not a lot before (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) but if you feel you absolutely have to show something at the end, make it something worthy of the build. The matter of who is responsible for the strange happenings is kept pretty ambiguous until right at the end, then the reveal kills all of that and leaves nothing in doubt. I got a strange dark comic thrill from William’s (Ralph Ineson) very Medieval solution to all of his children accusing each other of being witches, and the film doesn’t flinch from the harshness of living in this time and place, but in the end it just didn’t scare me. SSP
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Writer and film fanatic fond of black comedies, sci-fi, animation and films about dysfunctional families.
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