Reed Alexander's Review of 'The VVitch' (2015)
The Long, Hard Movie
An hour and a half of abso-fucking-lutely fuck all. You know this movie is visually stunning. I mean that. It's awe inspiring to the point that it is moving. But Jesus fucking Christ, we're not talking about a slow burn, we're talking about a time lapse of cactus dying of thirst over an hour and a half long. Yeah, the cactus catches fire at the end and that is kinda cool, but who wants to watch the cactus slowly wilt for that long.
Now, I mean it when I say this movie is visually stunning. They wasted no effort tapping into the filthy, depressing, restrictive life of the colonial Americas. It was dark—and I mean literally dark. If you try to watch this movie with the lights on, there are several scenes you basically don't get to see. This kinda works for two reasons: one of which is that it forces the audience to watch the movie in the dark, really driving home the atmosphere. Second, it sews a sense of helplessness into the unknown. The darkness seems like a living force that's out to consume the main characters.
The acting is of course magnificent, even for Hollywood, which is rare for horror. Of course the problem with this level of excellence, not just in acting but also in setting, is that it starts to feel like artistic masturbation. Imagine a whole movie that was one long 'Gladiator Moment.' That is this fucking movie in a nut shell. It comes off in the story as it unfolds. It's not confusing per se but it dose have a lot of needless roundabout for what should essentially be simple.
Look, I'm not recommending this movie. It is too fucking boring. I don't care how pretty and anachronistically correct it is, it's boring.
This movie is nothing more than the story of a man who lets his pride get the best of him and drags his family away from safety to their obvious death. They never tell you what he did to piss off his church elders, but he basically has the choice of begging for their forgiveness or being banished. And like a stubborn asshat, rather than just begging for the safety of his family, he tells them off and chooses banishment. They are then picked off one at a time by a coven of evil witches. Honestly, they didn't even need to have witches. This asshole has no practical skills. He can't grow a crop, he can't trap, he can't shoot and he has no idea how to tend livestock. No witches ever needed to be in this movie. This could have been a movie about a family dying off from disease, normal survivalist accidents, and wild animal attacks. Wouldn't have really changed much.
But they wanted to drive home some asinine Anglo-Christian bullshit about the devil preying on men who fall to their hubris. Basically, pride is a sin and that means the who family is doomed for the sins of the father. I brought this up in my review of "Abattoir." If the whole point of having a vengeful god is to basically set ground rules which only exist for evil to exploit, the supposed ruler of the universe is terrible at his job.
The movie suggests that the two youngest children manifest evil onto the family through accidental idolatry. They pretend the family goat, 'Black Philip,' is a mythological ruler of the land. Basically, evil needed a conduit into the family and the kids bring it to life. But do you see how needlessly convoluted that is? The shit hits the fan when a witch steals their baby so why not just run with that? The terrible things that befall the family for the first hour and twenty minutes of the movie didn't need 'Black Philip' to be Satan. So why do it? It just complicates everything with unnecessary layers.
So yeah, 'Black Philip' is Satan and the eldest daughter basically looks around, sees the fact that her whole family is dead, realizes God did shit to stop it all and is like "Fuck it, I'm gonna be a witch."
Yeah, God showed them... Again, visually stunning, fucking boring.