Nowadays, we’ve come to equate the term “puritan” with somebody who dresses in ankle-length skirts, watches only G-rated entertainment, and complains incessantly about the kids and their music today. But ’twere not always thus. The Puritans in The Witch (or “The VVitch,” if you’re one of those people who insists on typing David Fincher’s seminal thriller as “Se7en” every time as well) are sternly religious traditionalists, yes, but they’re also pioneers in a big, scary new world with naught but their faith to give them comfort. Comfort they’re presumably going to need when a witch of some sort shows up.
Director Robert Eggers declares here that his goal was to create the sort of nightmare such people might have had, and make it scary and immediate for modern audiences (I personally find his piercing blue eyes and perfectly groomed beard a little on the frightening side, so he has me hooked already). The familiar, stern voice of Ralph Ineson anchors us a bit–you may know the longtime character actor best as Dagmer Cleftjaw on Game of Thrones, but he’s also been a fixture in the Harry Potter sequels and Guardians of the Galaxy, among many others–but something feels definitely amiss and creepy in the woods. It’s as if the Blair Witch prequel we were always promised finally came to us without any franchise baggage.
Will she turn them into newts? And will they get better? You’ll have to find out come February 19.
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