The Witch
By Carlos DeVitis With on February 15, 2015

I wanted to like The Witch (spoilers below). While I am not a fan of horror genre film Robert Eggers Puritan period landscape was constructed with an alluring attention to detail that the viewer is drawn into the harsh reality of early American life. But this is a witch story, not a History Channel period piece. I left confused.

The story follows William, Katherine and their five children as they are expelled from the support of the plantation community. They are a devout family that would rather embrace the harsh life of homesteading than compromise their Christian devotion. Uncompromising devotion is the heartbeat of William’s family and when their crops fail and tragedy visits their family, that devotion is fully tested.

The Witch explores the dangers that lurk within the human heart; weaving strands of pride, lust, and idolatry throughout the fabric of the plot. While the homesteaders battle loss and the harsh reality of approaching winter they are confronted with their deeper, dark spaces and succumb to the danger therein.

The deception of the human heart and the power of deceit and shame to tear apart the connection we experience with those we love is a worthwhile topic of discussion. The Witch almost asks questions about such a deception and does so under the shadow of the divine. Does God punish us for our inward thoughts when our outward actions are obedient? Would a creator allow pain and sorrow to undo us when we have chosen a life dedicated to his purposes? Can the unfaithfulness of a single person bring about apostasy for an entire family? After 90 minutes of exquisite costuming, authentic set design, and flawless acting we are left with two stories and no answers.

The first story is of a man who exiles his family for the sake of his faith; it lasts 5 minutes. The second story wants to deal with the consequences of that man’s choices, but instead introduces a real life, baby snatching witch; writhing naked under the pale of the moon. William and Katherine are not truly left to the consequences of their hearts of darkness and I am not truly forced to wrestle with the important questions about the consequences of internal evil. Instead I fell victim to the supernatural evil of a sinister hag and her coven and so did they. I guess thats horror.

About the Author: Carlos DeVitis

1 Response to "The Witch"

  1. The first film I had the opportunity to see at Sundance this year was called “The Witch” directed by Robert Eggers. I must admit that normally I would not have watched a film within the horror genre but it ended up being the film that stuck in the depths of my mind the longest out of all the films I watched. In the year 1630, a Puritan family including William and Katherine take their five children out of the village they live in to a new home on the edge of a vast forest. There is certainly a darkness to the forest; a whisper of evil. Their eldest daughter, Thomasin, is playing a game of peak-a-boo with their newborn son when he is snatched from her by a unknown creature. The audience eventually finds out that the creature is in fact a witch. She kills the child and spreads his blood over her body. In my opinion, there are two devices of film that contribute to the creation of fear and anticipation for the audience. One is this scene in particular. The audience begins to see what is at stake and what the witch is capable of at this point in the film. The other is the music score. The film contains a pulsating use of violin which transports the viewer to the edge of their seat and further along in the story.

    As we are carried through the film, the family begins to unravel. Fear creates a distrust between each family member that eventually destroys them all. I found no redemption in this film. No sense of hope. But it does come with a lesson if you are willing to open your eyes to see it.

    In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” This scripture says that many people who do the works for God will not enter into heaven. Sounds like a pretty scary revelation to me. As I watched “The Witch” I was reminded of this scripture. Each of the characters (especially William, Katherine, and Thomasin) cry out to God, pray to God, beg God for help, read God’s word, and talk a lot about God but is evident that their lives are devoid of any real relationship with God. The film itself feels devoid of God. Katherine at one point in the story expresses the disappearance of both her faith and her relationship with God. Many times we talk about God, we say our lives are all about God, we do wonders in His name but we have lost a relationship with God. Be careful. Don’t allow yourself to be so caught up in talking about God that you forget to spend time with Him.

    by Laura Bryant on Feb 17th, 2015 at 10:45 pm
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