Why critics are calling 'The Witch' the scariest movie they have seen in years

The witch introA24‘The Witch.’

As “Deadpool” looks to dominate the box office for a second straight weekend, let’s put our focus on a new movie out this weekend you should definitely pay attention to.

“The Witch” is a 1630s-set horror film that has been stunning audiences since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. The trailer has been talked about for months on social media, and tracking indicates it could make $10 million in its opening weekend on a $1 million budget. On Friday, the masses will finally get to see it.

A Puritan family living in the woods of New England is disrupted when the father leaves and the mother and five children are left to look over things only to come across strange occurrences like crops dying and one child seemingly possessed.

Critics say this one is not to be missed. Here are some reasons why.

The mix of family and superstition is terrifying.


As Variety puts it, the movie, a directorial debut for Robert Eggers, is 'a strikingly achieved tale of a mid-17th-century New England family's steady descent into religious hysteria and madness.'

While Time writes: ''The Witch' is partly the story of a family torn apart by mysterious evil, but like any folktale, its true function is to nose around deeper, murkier anxieties.'

Along with the scares, there's some amazing photography.


'It comes as no surprise to learn that the two most important influences on Eggers here were Kubrick's 'The Shining' and Bergman's 'Cries and Whispers'; from the former come the visual style and the sense of a place possibly haunted long ago, from the latter the spectacle of incipient madness overtaking women,' the Hollywood Reporter writes.

The Guardian adds: 'The picture looks as if it were shot using only available light and if that means some moments come off dark, we're only just as spooked as the characters.'

The unknown lead gives a phenomenal performance.


Anya Taylor-Joy plays the teenage daughter of the family, whom they turn on for allegedly being a witch, an explanation for the weird occurrences. Expect to hear more about her, as she's a star on the rise.

As the Daily Beast puts it: 'The real discovery here is British actress Anya Taylor-Joy, whose open expressiveness is all the more marvellous when she's forced to go from pious obedience to desperate self-preservation to orgiastic release...'

The movie is filled with smart historical references.


Eggers did extensive research on period sources, including prayers, sermons, diaries, and writings on witchcraft and trials, to shape the story and dialogue.

For Indiewire, 'The effect is a haunting narrative of otherworldly forces made especially scary due to the realism surrounding them.'

While New York magazine wrote: '(Eggers) went with the myths, from eras in which most people believed that there was an actual devil with whom to dance. So you're watching the thing itself, stripped of its postmodern political and cultural accretions.'

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