The Witch: Horror or History?

Hannah Reasor, Entertainment Editor

There’s a difference between a horror movie and a horror experience. The Witch is the latter.

When most people think of witches they think of scary looking women riding brooms. The film plays on these societal concepts that have stemmed from the Salem Witch Trials and movies about witches over time.

The movie is set in the 1630s when the uncertainty of venturing through the unsettled New England land is high. The family is tested when they are banished from the plantation they were settled on and are forced to start a farm near a chilling wood.

The film does more than insert a few spooks and creep audiences out. It takes the one thing the family carries, their Christianity, and tests their faith in it. From the first instance of “witchcraft” to the last, the brutality of each act increases.

Almost immediately The Witch puts an eerie feeling in the audience’s guts and begins feeding off the fear to further disturb people. This is accomplished not by the few scenes of a scary witch (who tends to be more sinful than scary), but by showing you how doubt and fear can tear the patriarchy of a settler family down.

There was no need for any actors besides the main family. Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson played the parents of five children. They represent the baggage of the family which includes their banishment, any lies told, and even more. Each of them show different reactions of having everything you’ve ever believed taken from you. Ineson’s voice has a low drawl to it making you feel exposed the entire movie, as if you are the witch yourself.

Even more impressive was the performance of the two eldest children though. Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw play the two children most directly affected by these forces of evil lying in the wood. Taylor-Joy plays Thomasin, the family’s main protagonist (antagonist?) who begins to be consumed by the negative energy being released from the family’s increasing tension. Taylor-Joy shows a wide-range of emotion, allowing audiences to become captivated by her performance. Scrimshaw represents just the same emotion, even through the old-English dialogue.

The Witch is not horror. There are no jump scares. The movie is an experience. The cinematography is eerily beautiful, the music is hauntingly gruesome, and the flow of the movie is personal. It feels as if you’re watching a diary of something you can’t exactly remember doing.

The Witch is that movie that will leave you thinking it over and over and will stick with you for the rest of your life.

In select theaters now worldwide. Tickets available on