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The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Old 02-22-16, 09:37 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Saw this over the weekend and was fairly disappointed, mainly due to misplaced expectations. I was expecting a scary, unsettling movie. Instead, it was a well-acted, well-written historical family drama with a dash of Grimm bros. supernatural, but scored and edited as if it was much scarier than it was. It was interesting, but with how little the wife and I get out to the theater these days, I just as soon would've waited to see it at home if I'd known what kind of flick it was going to be.
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Old 02-22-16, 12:12 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I'm pretty much on the same page as this review:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...e-witch-review
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Old 02-22-16, 10:01 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I would agree with that review too. Just came back from seeing this tonight. It's a very unsettling film. I think what has caused its low Cinemascore with the general public is that it's not the movie you expect and it's far from the typical horror-movie formula that even good horror movies utilize. Think of it more as a disturbing domestic drama rather than a horror movie. The Witch is firmly in the "art house horror" genre, which is pretty niche. The dialogue is a little hard to understand at first, but like watching a Shakespearean play, you get the rhythm and cadence of it quickly enough. Acting is top notch (two Game of Thrones vets!) with a particularly terrific performance by the actress who plays the eldest daughter Thomasin. Cinematography is right on par with The Revenant (yeah, I said it!) and the production design is right up there, remarkable for a low budget film.

P.S. I hope Black Phillip gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
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Old 02-23-16, 06:08 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I'm hyped.
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Old 02-23-16, 07:04 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by onebyone View Post
Of course, Black Philip deserves an Oscar nomination and is a STAR.
That would certainly answer the calls for nominee diversity. http://33hpwq10j9luq8gl43e62q4e.wpen...bn-680x411.jpg

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD View Post
I think time will be kinder to this movie than current audiences. .
In other words...Criterion edition!
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Old 02-23-16, 08:39 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I really liked this movie. A lot. If this doesn't wind up in my top three horror films of the year, I'd be surprised.

Loved the setting. Loved the sinister undercurrent running throughout. Absolutely loved the acting. All of the kids were great.

Black Philip is, indeed, a star. I hope he gets more work.

I appreciated the mounting dread that erupted in a cataclysm of Satanic proportions.

Loved the score.

This is not audience pleasing horror, not in the least, and I love that it didn't pander to what modern viewers may have gone in expecting.
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Old 02-23-16, 09:13 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post


In other words...Criterion edition!

I think that would be quite appropriate. It would be a very good companion piece to Haxan, which is also a part of the collection. Having had time to reflect, I really do think the movie is quite good and deserves accolades from the critics.

Q: does anyone else find it odd that the actress who played the mother has now done two roles that feature her character breastfeeding?
I remembered the father being on Game of Thrones at one point as well, but cannot remember his character (I looked it up on IMDB). Apparently he was in a three episode arc, so he must have been somewhat important.

Speaking of Thrones, I hope the producers of the series see this movie and give Black Philip a role. There are plenty he could play!
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Old 02-23-16, 10:56 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

The dad in The Witch played Theon's right hand man when the Ironborn invaded Winterfell back in Season 2.
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Old 02-23-16, 12:15 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD View Post
I think that would be quite appropriate. It would be a very good companion piece to Haxan, which is also a part of the collection.
Into the Woods: An Interview with The Witchís Robert Eggers

https://www.criterion.com/current/po...-robert-eggers
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Old 02-23-16, 12:23 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Black Phillip needs to be part of the commentary track
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Old 02-23-16, 02:31 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Saw this earlier today. I saw it described as unsettling, and I think that is really a perfect description for it. I have been thinking about certain parts of it even now, hours after seeing it. The language did trip me up on a few occasions, making it the perfect movie to revisit when it hits video.
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Old 02-23-16, 09:48 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Defiant1 View Post
The dad in The Witch played Theon's right hand man when the Ironborn invaded Winterfell back in Season 2.
He also played Chris Finch in the original BBC version of The Office.

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Old 02-24-16, 07:11 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I went last weekend on a dreary/rainy day and enjoyed. Well-made, strong acting, creepy.
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Old 02-24-16, 09:06 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Even the studio knows that Black Phillip is a rising star. He has his own TV spot now! Minor spoilers in the video so be warned if you haven't seen the movie yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_XTFjvvcnQ

Hmm, is there a problem with embedding videos? I can't see any videos on any thread.
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Old 02-28-16, 04:59 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Mondo Kane View Post
Best scene of the movie for me:
Spoiler:
Caleb's death. Powerful acting from that young guy!
I absolutely agree with you on this--the scene and the actor were riveting.

Originally Posted by Raul3 View Post
I think most people would agree that this is a good movie. What's debatable, for some, is if this is a good HORROR movie. It is for me.
I DON'T think that most people will think that this is a good film. Just as most people don't like to watch subtitled movies, a period horror film with tough-to-decipher accents and little action isn't going to resonate with the vast majority of audiences.

Originally Posted by islandclaws View Post
This is not audience pleasing horror, not in the least, and I love that it didn't pander to what modern viewers may have gone in expecting.
I agree wholeheartedly. I went with two friends, and all three of us got our masters degrees from the same English department at the same university within a few years of each other. After it was over, I turned to them and said, "You've got to love a horror movie made for smart people." While that statement sounds arrogant and pompous, it's not that far off the mark. The film presupposes a certain sophistication on the part of the viewer. Those who regularly take in art house fare are much more likely to find a lot of things to like in it than will those whose cinematic diet consists mainly of comic book adaptations, Michael Bay productions, and movies with "Madea" in the title.

I can't wait to see it again.
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Old 02-29-16, 06:29 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I agree wholeheartedly. I went with two friends, and all three of us got our masters degrees from the same English department at the same university within a few years of each other. After it was over, I turned to them and said, "You've got to love a horror movie made for smart people." While that statement sounds arrogant and pompous, it's not that far off the mark. The film presupposes a certain sophistication on the part of the viewer.
Which portions of the film catered specifically to your intellect?
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Old 02-29-16, 12:33 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Some more thoughts on this film....

One reason I think that this may not seem exactly like a horror movie to a lot of people is that with most horror movies, the characters themselves are physically terrified of the monster/evil, and you as the viewer sort of experience terror through them.

With this movie, though...


Spoiler:
...with a couple brief exceptions, none of the characters are really frightened of witches in the way that we commonly think of being frightened in horror movies, as in Alien, or Blair Witch Project, or The Shining, etc..

I think the writer and director did a great job of getting into the Puritan mindset regarding witches. I don't think they were exactly frightened of witches in the same way as they might have been scared of a ghost---I think it was more like the way, in modern times, we might look at a child sex predator. Sure, there is fear as far as the evil deeds they might do and the harm they might cause (as in harming their child/stealing their baby), but more than fear there's a hatred and contempt for them and what they represent. I don't think you ever really get a sense that the father would have been physically frightened of the witch---he would have just tried to destroy it. He was more frightened of the idea that his daughter would become one.

In some ways, the concept of a witch is maybe more scary (or at least scary in a different way) to the modern viewer, because it's so apart from our reality. But for the Puritans, sure they thought witches were evil and had supernatural powers, but they also saw them as a regular part of their reality.
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Old 02-29-16, 02:35 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

I think that's a good observation Ky-Fi. I started to type up something in a similar vein last week and got sidetracked. To me, the movie lives much more up to its title card 'A New England Folk Tale' than to what I would consider a horror movie. That is, it is fantastical and horrific things happen, but it's not presented so as to be scary, other than the score, which often felt overbearing and out of place.
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Old 02-29-16, 07:17 PM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by maxfisher View Post
I think that's a good observation Ky-Fi. I started to type up something in a similar vein last week and got sidetracked. To me, the movie lives much more up to its title card 'A New England Folk Tale' than to what I would consider a horror movie. That is, it is fantastical and horrific things happen, but it's not presented so as to be scary, other than the score, which often felt overbearing and out of place.
I totally get what you're saying, but it did work for me as a horror movie as well as a folk tale. I haven't seen the movie since it came out, but I was reminded a bit of the vibe of Session 9---just that claustrophobic, overwhelming dread.
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Old 03-01-16, 06:10 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Interesting. Haven't seen Session 9 since it came out years ago, so I should probably revisit that one. For some reason my mind keeps drawing a line between The Witch and Under the Skin. It's odd since they're very different in almost every regard, but for some reason that's the link my brain keeps trying to make. Will have to revisit The Witch when it comes out on Blu-ray to see if there's something there or if my subconscious is just making an odd random connection.
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Old 03-02-16, 04:45 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Just got home from seeing this and have been trying to figure out why the critics seem to be giving this so much praise.

Based on a couple of reviews I sampled, it sounds like it mostly fed into their own conceptions of the evilness of devout religious belief using the time period of the movie as a prism through which to view modern religious belief and the politics it inspires.

If that had actually been what the movie had been about I would have liked it more, but almost from the start the movie has a real literalness about the evil attacking this family that takes a lot of the force out that argument (which is where I significantly depart with the above New Yorker review, which otherwise would have been spot on, well except that the apple was partly rotted not whole as described in that piece). The family is not damning itself due to the extreme religious beliefs of the time (or even of the father's apparently even more extreme beliefs) they are being stalked by actual agents of evil.

We see someone running with the baby through the forest and then sacrifice the child in a fairly gruesome ritual. No other family members are there, so this isn't a possible fantasy and no one is having any kind of hysterical reaction that would lead one to think that scene was someone's imagination of what happened to the child.

This scene kind of killed the movie for me once we reached the end. I was expecting, after this, something more along the lines of a slightly more traditional horror movie to follow but with more emphasis on the failure of their religious belief to offer them any kind of real relief. Instead it was a very (effectively) moody piece but ultimately there was something bad in the woods that wanted to kill everyone and wear the daughter down to the point where they could recruit her to their cause. Even this wouldn't have seemed so pointless if there seemed to be some kind of benefit or sense of purpose for this apparently fairly powerful witches coven to exist in the middle of nowhere.

As it is, the movie almost seems to prove the point of the Puritan desire for deep faith since apparently the devil really is real.

I think the director was ultimately trying to show how these little horrors brought out the weakness of their misplaced faith, but by having the evil in the woods be a real thing that was actually trying to corrupt and kill them, he kind of stepped all over his point.

That young boy's death scene was really pretty good, though and the two kids (were they twins or just very close in age) were pretty effective at being creepy. The oldest daughter was very good too. I wish they had tried to make the mother a little more sympathetic. The father was actually too good now that I think about him a little more. He was really too stable given that he was apparently so religiously zealous that even a small colony of Puritans couldn't put up with him.

The ending was incredibly unsatisfying. My brother and I walked out asking each other just exactly what was the point of the devil (or his evil minions) in doing this?

Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
I thought the director did one difficult thing very skillfully:

Spoiler:
For about 95% of the film, everything is realistic and grounded, in that there is no real evidence that anything supernatural is going on at all. Then in the last 10 minutes it goes full-on supernatural. That transition could have been laughably disastrous, and I thought the director handled it quite subtly and smoothly.
I agree with the transition part, but I really think there were tons of evidence of supernatural occurrences through the movie, it just didn't appear that way to the family until right there at the end. (The baby scene, the rifle misfiring against the evil bunny, the spooking of the animals that conveniently split up the older siblings, the corrupted hand on the witch Caleb is molested by, and at that point it's pretty clear that probably no one is getting away alive here.) And really, by that point it is time to show the monster, so I don't know that it was so much well done as much as it was showing remarkable patience in the CGI movie world that we live in now.

You know what I think would have been more poignant in terms of religious zealotry would have been the oldest daughter going back to that town and then being tried and stoned for witchcraft when we knew she was the tragic victim of it.
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Old 03-02-16, 07:40 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Blade View Post
As it is, the movie almost seems to prove the point of the Puritan desire for deep faith since apparently the devil really is real.

I think the director was ultimately trying to show how these little horrors brought out the weakness of their misplaced faith, but by having the evil in the woods be a real thing that was actually trying to corrupt and kill them, he kind of stepped all over his point.
I essentially agree with your take, but as a Christian, I think for me that's exactly why I liked the movie so much. I read one interview with the director and he said that in school, they were all taught the standard story that the witchcraft trials were just religious hysteria expressed by primitive, superstitious people--and he said he wanted to tell a little more complex story.

I don't think the movie shied away from showing that their faith could be misguided and oppressive, but I think the director had more to say other than the standard politically correct take of "the real evil was their own intolerance."

I think he was saying "Yeah, their misguided faith was intolerant and caused a lot of problems, but there are more evil things out in the world than that." And that resonated with me.
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Old 03-02-16, 08:13 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by maxfisher View Post
Which portions of the film catered specifically to your intellect?
Mainly the naked witch lady.



Seriously, I knew that someone would take what I wrote as boastful, but that wasn't my intent. I'm certainly not saying that I'm the smartest guy in the room, because I'm most certainly not. I do, however, possess enough smarts to know when a movie is pandering, and The Witch doesn't pander to its audience. It expects us to actively participate in decoding its message, and itís refreshing that weíre not bludgeoned with an explanation for everything that happens. Itís very much in the vein of Bergmanís work in the 1960s, particularly reminding me of aspects of the Faith Trilogy and Hour of the Wolf.

Iím most thankful that we got the chance to see it in a theater; the distributor was toying with the idea of sending it straight to VOD. Itís a film that gains a lot of its power from seeing it on a big screen in the dark, and itís bound to lose something in its transition to the worldís living rooms. (In fact, I was annoyed a bit at my screening that the line of lights that showed the stairs weren't dimmed--at many points in the film, they were brighter than the image on the screen.) That doesnít mean that Iím not going to buy it on release day; Iíll preorder it as soon as I see it listed.
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Old 03-04-16, 03:11 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
I essentially agree with your take, but as a Christian, I think for me that's exactly why I liked the movie so much. I read one interview with the director and he said that in school, they were all taught the standard story that the witchcraft trials were just religious hysteria expressed by primitive, superstitious people--and he said he wanted to tell a little more complex story.
My problem with how he did it is that if you basically take the position that God is real (and I'm saying they do in this film by making real God's counterpoint) then you take away a lot of the power and meaning of having faith. That seems like a poor way to show another dimension to the religious aspect of the witch trials.

I think he was saying "Yeah, their misguided faith was intolerant and caused a lot of problems, but there are more evil things out in the world than that." And that resonated with me.
I didn't really see a connection between the evil forces in this movie and the greater evils in our current world. And even if I did, there was still the utter pointlessness of what it did.

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
(In fact, I was annoyed a bit at my screening that the line of lights that showed the stairs weren't dimmed--at many points in the film, they were brighter than the image on the screen.)
Had this problem at my theater too.
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Old 03-04-16, 08:13 AM
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Re: The Witch (2016, D: Robert Eggers)

Originally Posted by Blade View Post
My problem with how he did it is that if you basically take the position that God is real (and I'm saying they do in this film by making real God's counterpoint) then you take away a lot of the power and meaning of having faith. That seems like a poor way to show another dimension to the religious aspect of the witch trials.
It worked for me, but I think your point is reasonable.
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