In celebration of one of the best months of the year, Roadside Reader is celebrating Spooktober! by reviewing books, tv shows, or movies that frighten, disturb, and leave you feeling spooked. For Day 1, I thought we’d start with watching…
Directed and written by Robert Eggers, The VVitch takes place in newly settled New England and focuses on a family who are banished from their settlement for the religious fervor and forced to contend with the wilderness and the supernatural. Now, honestly, I’m a super chicken, so I thought okay, I’ll start with The VVitch to get my fears over with and then it’ll be okay. Unfortunately, the scariest thing about The VVitch was the soundtrack, which was fantastic at creating and building suspense. I think if that was taken away, the movie would never have received the hype it had.
This is a FULL SPOILERS REVIEW so seriously, stop here if you haven’t seen it and want to.
So, honestly, if the movie had ended 5 minutes early, excluding credit time, it would have been a great thriller, an okay scary/spooky movie. But, those added five minutes just completely ruined the film. It made everything, all of the suspense that was built up, the human emotions, and the raw reality of living “alone” in the unknown wilderness meaningless.
Let’s start at the beginning however, with everything that actually went right. The lighting was AMAZING and so was the pacing. The camera work was great and, as I said earlier, the soundtrack/music was the most amazing part at creating a creepy atmosphere. The acting was spot on. Especially fantastic was Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. She truly captured Thomasin’s fear, confusion, and need for both acceptation and rejection wonderfully.
The plot that a man as religious as William seemed to be would allow his pride and righteousness banish his family from the settlement without thinking on how it would affect his wife or children. That this religious man is also a hypocrite and willing to let his family suffer for his own protection, pride, and guilt, would bring the ultimate downfall to the family is fantastic dramatic irony.
Then, the running side plot of burgeoning sexuality burdening closed religious communities was done quite well with the side glances Caleb gives Thomasin. The careful way William holds his daughter. The suspicious way Katherine stares at Thomasin’s interactions with the males in her family, spiting her youth and beauty. All the while, Thomasin takes on their sins, their glances, their lust, as her own guilt, a fault of her inherent womanly sin. I suppose, thinking about those five minutes I absolutely despised, it could be interpreted as the final freeing of Thomasin, but I didn’t feel like it while watching, nor does it feel like it in retrospect. The fact that Thomasin can only gain her freedom through a marriage with the Devil and the suffering of others (the twins) is ridiculous.
As I said, those last five minutes were the worst part of the movie and drastically changed it from being a great movie, to a movie I probably will never watch again. It should have ended with Thomasin alone in the room looking broken, not with her making a pact with the black goat then disrobing and joining a bunch of naked women in the forest before flying away. It was beyond ridiculous, it made everything that happened beforehand a farce.