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The Witch

I walked into the theater with my skin practically peeled back in invitation, but The Witch just couldn’t quite get under it, and I’m not sure why. The film is exquisitely crafted, with thoughtful attention to period details, desaturated cinematography that is underlit to terrific effect, and a spare, dread-inducing score. The script is an often compelling examination of a deteriorating family, and how communal isolation intensifies the ill effects of religious fervor and gender roles. The performances are a convincing evocation of puritanical superstition and paranoia. But I just couldn’t conjure the level of empathy this family seemed to deserve, and the titular witch’s escalating intrusion on their lives never felt real enough to truly horrify me. It’s still a great mood piece, and definitely tops most modern horror films, but it’s not the instant classic I hoped it would be.