‘The Witch’ Conjures Up Fear in Terrifying Trailer

In a world where found footage has unabashedly cornered the horror market, one cannot help but weep for the children who will never experience a uniquely terrifying experience. Opting for “true stories” and cheap thrills, as a society we’ve become tremendous cowards when it comes to allowing ourselves to openly fear. Who is thinking of the kids?! Thankfully, this year has opened a chasm to the depths of our forefathers’ tortured souls, electing to redefine the horror genre as less “jump in your seat” and more “inhabit your psyche and fuck with you forever.” Enter Robert Eggers, writer and director of upcoming film The Witch.

We’ve seen this story before. Family is plagued by a mystical force, children are used as pawns for the devil, parents fear what they don’t understand and probably make things worse. But, to you skeptics I say, have you seen that fucking goat yet?

The Witch seems to take place in puritan New England, which by most standards is already pretty terrifying in itself. This is the society that managed to execute innocent people due to hysteria (or food poisoning, or whatever working theory they’ve been going with these days). Fear of the unknown, fear of persecution, the indigenous Americans, and wild animals plagued their daily lives, making early New England a sufficient hell on earth.

For the family whose lives are about to be drastically altered, any fears they once harbored while toiling away in their meaningless existences are soon to become moot. Touted as “devoutly Christian” the unnamed family packs up their belongings and moves to the edge of an impenetrable wilderness. Crops are planted, structures built, and lives began. Things couldn’t be better, they have each other. The official preview released gives no pretense about their world. The gray wash of the New England sky, and the dark speckled forest play character roles quietly in the background, assuring the audience of what’s to come. After cementing themselves in their new life along the edge, the youngest child goes missing. Not in the night, not while backs are turned, but in the middle of the day while the baby’s older sister eyes are momentarily covered. Her panic-stricken face hurriedly searches the area for the child, only to be met with lightly trembling brush dancing in the breeze.

Things escalate from there. The crops die without warning, the remaining four children are in a constant state of perturbation, and the family begins to spiral into a paranoia that threatens to destroy everything from their sensibilities to their souls. What’s real? And what’s in their head? From what we’ve seen so far it’s hard to believe this is Eggers’ first film. Each shot feels carefully thought out, and executed with surgical accuracy. It appears that much of the early parts of the film denote a sweeping insecurity that creates an opening within the family for evil to inhabit. Initially that evil feels self-perpetuated, though is quickly confirmed as a sentient being in the form of a creature, who for all intents and purposes, we’ll assume is the title character. The Witch itself is deformed and essentially shapeless, living in the forest in obscurity. At first we only see a foot, creeping softly out of its front door, however towards the end of the clip we see it huddled in a heap on the dirt floor, cauldron nearby.

What follows is children possessed by an unknown force, and blood slowing dripping out of orifices normally reserved for brutal beatings and murders. The use of goats, one male and one female, embodies the symbol for the devil and evil incarnate. The healthy black goat, steadily watching, and eventually walking on its hind legs. Is it out of fear? The animalistic warning sign that humanity likes to ignore? Or perhaps he’s the mole whispering in the night to the unknowingly willing family, planting insecurity and broadening fear.

Unfortunately the movie has been pushed to 2016, however this gives us an opportunity to ready ourselves for the new wave of horror hopefully being produced from here on out. The Witch is already a two time award winner at the Sundance film festival, and will be released through A24 films  (the same studio that brought us Spring Breakers, Ex-Machina, Obvious Child, and The End of the Tour) Check out the preview, and stew in silence as we are assured that the kids will be alright after after-all.

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