Monday, February 22, 2016

The VVitch Review

Wow, February 2016 sure has delivered some good movies, huh? Last weekend delivered the more fun than expected Deadpool, while the week prior brought out the Coen Brothers newest successful feature film Hail, Caesar! Considering February in years past has been the birthplace for classics like The LEGO Movie and The Silence Of The Lambs, perhaps it should come as no surprise to see some surprisingly solid releases emerging from this time of the year, but amidst a sea of films like Zoolander 2 and The Choice, one can appreciate that we've managed to get something as great this month as Hail, Caesar! all the more.

I'm pleased to say the good times at your local bijou continue to roll this month with the new feature The VVitch, a horror film set in the 17th century and finds equal measures of pulse-pounding terror in both spell casting witches and everyday paranoia. Our tale, like many great horror films, has a simple set-up; a family is living a tranquil life on a farm when the children of the group begin to vanish. Who could be behind these recurring tragedies? All signs being to point to a witch being the culprit, with the eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), gradually becoming the primary suspect of being a witch in disguise.

The VVitch comes courtesy of Robert Eggers, who tackles both the writing and directorial duties on this independent motion picture, marking his first foray into feature filmmaking. The dude has some serious chops in his initial foray into both fields, especially in his decision in setting this story in 17th century New England. There was an uncertainty hanging around the colonists of this new world in this specific era, and for good reason. They were living in what was to them uncharted territory, making history every day simply by existing in this terrain. Who knows what kind of danger might lurk in the heretofore unsurveyed wilderness they inhabit.

That pervasive undercurrent of precariousness is what begins to set off the inescapable feelings of terror in this family as one tragedy after another befalls their offspring. The actors assembled for this production are excellent at channeling that kind of panic, and I feel special kudos must go to the aforementioned Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Inenson, the latter individual playing the father of the family, William. While Taylor-Joy makes her fear of being turned on by her own family (as said before, they soon suspect her of being the witch that is causing all of this misery) feel real, but she's also extremely authentic in more tranquil sequences at the start of the story, particularly in her interactions with younger brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw).

Ralph Inenson, meanwhile, brings a stoic quality to William, a man attempting to keep his family within the edges of sanity as their world is torn apart. His booming vocals and physical stature make him an intimidating figure, and seeing him gradually lose his composure over the course of the film is an arc that Inenson handles with tactful precision. These two actors, as well as the rest of the cast ,are decked out in wonderfully made and era-appropriate garbs and reside in a similarly well constructed farmyard area that helps accentuate the unique aesthetic of this time period.

Oh, and don't worry, this horror motion picture contains plenty of scares, eschewing cheap jump scares for more unsettling and bizarre imagery. A number of the audience members of my screening found such visuals to be as humorous as Anchorman judging by their disruptive chortles, while, speaking of audience rudeness, two individuals behind me could not stop talking about how this movie was "so boring". It's totally fine if this film isn't your cup of tea, but please don't ruin the experience for everyone else with your pointless commentary and incessant laughter. It's a testament to how very well-crafted and frightening The VVitch is that I was still able to be bowled over by the movie in spite of such uncivil behavior occuring during my screening.

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