New England, 1630: After being shunned from the Puritan plantation, a family of five children and their two parents must establish their own life outside the walls of the community, amidst the unruly wilderness. Tensions begin to rise between the entire family as the crops they grow begin to fail, and even worse, the newborn baby disappears while in the care of the eldest sibling, the teenager Thomasin. As the family tries to work out and survive their situation, the ties that hold them together slowly begin to unravel as evil begins to take shape.
In a genre over-saturated with movies that rely on jump-scares to entertain the viewers, The Witch did a remarkable job leaving you stunned without any of the "extra" add to it. In the Witch, it's not about gore or monsters popping out at you leaving you on edge - it's the imagery, story line, and the wildly obscure music that really gets you invested in the film. Shortly after being banished from the Puritan community because of varying religious views, things just start to go crazy. Thomasin is out in the fields playing peek-a-boo with the infant Samuel when he suddenly disappears as she covers her eyes. After showing her panic, the film cuts to a remote part of the dark woods where a rough looking old woman ends baby Samuel's life before crushing his remains and consuming them. It's a harsh scene to watch and the first of a few scenes that will leave you thinking, "what the hell..."
As you could imagine, the loss of the baby raises tensions to a whole new level within the household. The family slowly begins to fall apart from that moment forward, as the mother Katherine is in complete breakdown mode. Caleb, the older of the boys, fears that young Samuel was taken because of his sins, and begins to question if he is bringing about his own destruction. Shortly after, he is in the woods seperated from his father when he comes across a cottage that houses a beautiful woman who kisses Caleb, afterwards revealing a hand that looks quite rough and haggard... much like the woman seen killing the baby and consuming his remains. After this encounter, Caleb returns to the house almost in a trance or even a possessed state, and tensions within the family begin to rise even more. From there, the movie really begins to get wild... but we'll save the rest for the film, and trust me, we even haven't gotten to the good parts yet!
All in all, this film was my absolute favorite from all of 2016. It took your typical witchcraft/black magic movie and did a complete 180 with it - like I said, it's not about jump-scares with this one. It's about the freaky-ness, the mindset in puts you in. The imagery of this film is just beyond words - it's absolutely terrifying but it's stunningly gorgeous at the same time. To be fair, the film starts off incredibly slow and will leave you wondering where exactly the story is going. But when The Witch hits, it hits hard. Before you know it, the family are shook - they are overtaken by evil and it's horrifying to think of this beautiful family being torn apart scene by scene. it's a story that will have you completely invested in the characters and your emotional attachment to them will be what either makes or breaks this movie for you. And if you ask me, that's how a great film should be - you should want to be connected to the characters and you should want to feel the pain they are experiencing, and The Witch accomplishes that from the get-go. This movie is a stunning example of how to get you to love not only a movie but a genre not from the typical overdone elements, but with the stripped down and raw reality it brings home. The Witch is a must see movie for all fans of anything outside the ordinary.