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Witch, The/The Witch: A New England Folktale  (DVD)


Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Julian Richings, Wahab Chaudhry

Director: Robert Eggars

On the surface, The Witch, has everything necessary to achieve cult status. Its director Eggars is most to be admired for his choice of cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, whose bleached, near monochrome imagery adds invaluable atmosphere where little exists in the story or its telling.

We’re in 1630 New England where Puritan English farmer Ralph Ineson is threatened with banishment by his Church. His response? “I cannot be judged by false Christians” and he takes his wife and five children to live in a remote farm near to a bleak forest.

It doesn’t take long for familiar shockfilm tropes to overtake them. The crops fail, the farm animals turn bizarrely malevolent (the unpleasant goat gives one of the most convincing performances) and then their baby vanishes in broad daylight.

And of course, worse is to come.

Eggers won the 2015 Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance. Which, given the familiarity of the material, is an impressive achievement. Alas, it didn't wash with me.

Alan Frank

USA/UK/Canada/Brazil 2015. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 14 Jul 2016