Bonus Watching: The VVitch (2015)
List Progress: 0/12 (+1)
Nothing like starting off the year with something blatantly not on my list! The 2015 psychological horror film The Witch (stylized “The VVitch: A New England Folktale”, which gives me so much joy to call “The Vi-Vitch”) is a slow, creeping tale of a Puritan farm family driven to ruin and chaos by the presence of witchcraft around their isolated home. The VVitch focuses a great deal more on dread than on straight-up fear. The supernatural forces at play are frightening, but so are the threats that the family might not be able to survive the winter through their own bad choices and ill fortune.
The story centers on the oldest daughter of the family, Thomasin, and how her family comes to view her with suspicion and fear after she is the last one to see her infant brother before he mysteriously disappears. The fact that she is the only pubescent female in the family, stranded between her mother and an impetuous younger sister, plays a great deal into how she is walking a razor’s edge in this Puritan society. Everything she does or doesn’t do can be reason for suspicion in a religious view that sees her as inherently sinful and dangerous. The witches in the forest are a threat from outside, Thomasin’s maturing is a threat of corruption from within and far more dangerous in their eyes. There is a lot to dig into in this moody and contemplative film, especially as there is not a lot of flash and spectacle to keep you busy otherwise.
While I enjoyed The VVitch, I can see how it would not be for everyone. Some scenes of supernatural violence early in the film seem designed to try and keep everyone in their seats through an otherwise slow film. But if you are ready to settle in and soak up the atmosphere, this is a good choice for a nicely haunting film.
Would I recommend it: Yes.
(Side Note: If you are in the Bay Area and interested in feminist stories about witchcraft, the Shotgun Player’s production of Vinegar Tom was amazing and has been extended through January 26th. Check it out!)