Robert Eggers / Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie / Horror / 2015 / 15 / 93mins
A visual leviathan bordering literary triumph, The Witch is fresh and reenergises the scare trade.
Following exile from a pilgrim settlement, William (Ralph Ineson) and his wife (Kate Dickie) and children settle beside a wood to start a new life. Some months later and a baby arrives, only for it go missing when the eldest child, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), is babysitting.
From the outset it’s unsettling, which is perhaps the word/feeling debutant director Robert Eggers is going for, interesting when you consider the pilgrim family are trying to settle.
The boy, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) isn’t the best actor but he clearly tries, bless. It’s a forced performance, like he’s refusing unless he gets a milky bar. The rest of the family have a chemistry; a loving mutual hatred for each other, which envelopes in the ensuing chaos.
I cannot emphasise enough how beautifully restrained the feature is. There’s a rhythmic, natural creepiness. From the lighting to the set, the regression to this historical period is akin to a psychological delve into a man’s ego and id. The additional use of authentic 17th Century dialogue is a masterstroke and heightens the religious qualities that influence the characters.
Devotion to imagination is crucial; it’s not a gimmick, it’s conveyed with conviction. And that’s what I love best: the interchange of photography and acting talent to produce a horror that expands the field. Jumpscare connoisseurs beware: The Witch isn’t outwardly scary, more uncanny in tone. One things for sure: this ain’t for family Fridays.
A moment of indie brilliance. Horror aficionados will love it. Historians will hold it in high esteem. Listen here – this debut is mighty impressive. For newcomers: a perfect foothold into creative horror.
Film as a Film – 4 / Target Audience – 5 / General Audience – 2
Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala / Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz / Horror / 2016 / 15 / 100mins
Creepy twins think their bandaged mother is not who she says she is, so they begin a destructive campaign to reveal the truth.
‘Goodnight Mommy’ is a European art horror with psychological nous that haunts with a surprisingly expected twist teased early on.
That’s what bothered me, that twist. It turns the film on its head – granted, a novel move – but flatlines with the freak torture flick it becomes. There isn’t enough character depth to truly capture the integrity of this switcheroo.
It’s saving grace is the acting. Elias and Luka Schwarz are mesmerising as the twins, bringing a pseudo-Omen kind of vibe, possibly reaching out to the disturbed mania of real criminals (the Bulger criminals perhaps). Susanne Wuest plays the mother with equal force as first predator then prey. In many ways, the shortcomings of their characters restrict the actors.
I admire the dream sequences, the blurring of reality etc. They’re quite creepy, but that’s as far as the flick goes – creepy goings on, pointless aggression – all in all ‘a bit dark’. Charlie Sheen’s diary would disturb me more, and that shit’s a comedy right there.
The ending is grim yet bland. It’s hollow, emotionless. If you were to just pick up a random horror DVD there are better examples to choose from, The Babadook springs to mind, or the artsy nature of It Follows.
For those who love a brush with creeping torture – you can’t afford to miss this. This is some real European talent that could bring more to the genre or stretch out elsewhere.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 3 / General Audience – 1
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