I have a tendency to be really late to the party when it comes to watching horror movies that have rave reviews. I mean, I saw Get Out over a year after its release and it’s amazing. When there are movies and games to review and articles to write, that doesn’t leave much downtime for watching movies as a hobby. I have been wanting to see THE VVITCH for a very long time. Even up until the point that I saw it, I didn’t really know much about what the movie truly was, but if it was about witches, I was so there. Little did I know how unsettling it would be.
Most of you may sympathize or even be in similar situations, but my family treats religion like a pill that is to be shoved down your throat. The antimony pill if you will. You are to swallow it, pass it and keep swallowing it over and over until you die. I am not the person who can blindly accept that pill and ask no questions, but you can imagine that is a lot of pressure from a lot of angles. Why do I mention this? Because I wasn’t sure what was scarier: the witches or the oppression this family was under. To tell yourself every day that you are born full of evil and sin and you are not worthy and that the very fabric of your being is a mistake that you are to constantly atone for is a terrifying concept.
Sure the baby murder got under my skin a lot and I have a hard time watching horror movies when children are harmed. It is the reason I have avoided certain films altogether. But that fleeting moment of discomfort for an implied incident was replaced by 90 minutes of emotional flagellation, hysteria and small-scale mob mentality. Ritual human sacrifice does happen but is extremely rare. It is not something you would be afraid of on a daily basis. Religious zealots crying death because you are different than them is something that is happening more and more.
Watching the family dynamic in THE VVITCH in a death spiral because the fear was scarier than the witch in the woods. Granted there was a witch in the woods in this instance but flying around on a stick is less of a scary concept to me than being ostracized for something that is out of their control in such an isolated environment. I have always been fascinated at the historical descriptions of witches throughout history and THE VVITCH hits all the classic tropes. I am surprised that Black Phillip didn’t have as big of a role in the film as I thought, in a way. In secret, Black Phililp pulls all the strings, but it isn’t as evident as one would believe. All Black Phillip did was hand the family the seeds that their own fear and beliefs sowed for them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It chilled me in ways I am not even sure I was meant to be chilled. The language was very historically accurate, the environment felt isolated and hopeless and I loved how dug in the film was to documented cases of witches. The dissonant score made me feel ill at ease on top of all of the discomfort the story was making me feel. Maybe I didn’t have the same experience that others had while watching for my own personal reasons, but THE VVITCH did what a good horror movie was supposed to do. The slow burn built up the anxiety and the psychological consequences hit harder than any jump scare ever could. Even though I was very late to this party, THE VVITCH was definitely worth it.
THE VVITCH is now available, for the first time, on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and includes special features such as audio commentary with director Robert Eggers and much more.