New England, 1630. William and Katherine try to lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness with five children. When their newborn son Samuel mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another, unraveling within their own sins and leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.
Billy: Expectation is an important factor in the proper enjoyment of a horror movie. So many people never gave The Blair Witch Project a shot because they didn’t expect the conventions of a found footage film. At first, it was the same with me and The VVitch. I didn’t realise how historical it would be, not merely in its setting, but how accurately it portrays it. There is an incredible commitment to historical detail in the making of The VVitch that will throw you off until you get used to the rhythm. It’s a little slow to start and you’ll have to lean in to hear the mumbled olde englishe in parts, but it’s preparing you for everything to feel right when it kicks off into the supernatural. Stick with it.
Amelia: I apparently really dig witch narratives, because between The VVitch and last year’s inaugural viewing of The Blair Witch Project, I have come to realize that you can make a good horror movie outside of ghosts and haunted mansions. Don’t get me wrong, ghosts are first and foremost my absolute favourite horror element, but witches have found their place in my library of all things creepy and/or crawly. The Blair Witch Project gave me a witch deep in lore without ever seeing it, now The VVitch has given me a witch with no backstory but visuals of a historically accurate witch if such a thing had existed like people in the 1600s believed they existed. I love them both and am excited for more witch based movies in the future because of them!
Billy: The whole time I watched The VVitch I just kept thinking how horrible it actually would have been to live in these times. Not even because it didn’t have modern technology and conveniences, but the beliefs that these people put on themselves were such a heavy burden that I can’t believe anybody made it out alive at all. Why are you doing this to yourselves? Don’t believe in witches. Don’t cast yourselves out into the woods, don’t nail your children up in a barn, don’t say a prayer over dinner time that has you saying you and your family are horrible sinners and God should take your souls sooner rather than later. Just be happy and go off looking for apples as a family. Is that so much to ask Puritan Christians of the 1600s? But no. Religion is bringing you all closer to your doom, beat by beat.
Amelia: Surprisingly, I didn’t hate the kids in this movie. Usually horror movies with a heavy emphasis on children assume you’ll immediately care about the characters just because they’re children. This never works on me because I hate kids and just can’t force myself to feel empathy for the types of children shown in horror movies 99% of the time. But the kids here were different. First, the eldest daughter was more teenager than child and she was the analogue of the movie, so good, I’m on board. Second, the child actors they got were actually decent, which is a hell of a feat in a movie relying on historical accuracy so much. Good on you children, keeping up with the “thees” and the “hithers” like that’s normal. Third, the kids were the whole reason this family was being plagued by witches in the first place. The rendered fat of an unbaptized baby is used in flying potion, hence why little baby Samuel is snatched away to kick off our family drama. They’re not just there to pull at your heartstrings because I’m supposed to care about kids, they are in this movie with a purpose!
Billy: When the movie actually gets to the supernatural elements, you’re waist-deep in the historical elements enough that the horror rings absolutely true. I always expected the VVitch herself to be historically accurate, but the work that went on earlier in the film to ground everything else pays off. That sagging, naked, deranged, very naked old woman is terrifying. And after she shows up, all you need to show the supernatural is a goat. A good goat, a fine actor. That goat plays it like he knows something is up, and when he flat out gores the father… I mean, God, it’s so tame by horror standards, but that goring was gruesome. I loved it.
Amelia: I personally wish we’d seen less of the witch. And I definitely wish we’d seen less of Satan. Dude’s costume design made him look like Captain Morgan, and I personally don’t see Satan as a brand logo for rum. Less is more in these types of movies and if we’d cut seeing the witch’s face in the goat shed, cut the sexy lady witch kissing Caleb, and absolutely cut seeing pirate Satan, I wouldn’t have a single thing to point out and say I didn’t like in The VVitch. It would have been perfect psychological horror because maybe nothing was happening all along. Maybe these Puritans just needed to cool their fucking God-fearing tits.
Billy: Eight witches out of ten
This movie really picked up for me! It felt like I had to see it to understand it. The VVitch is unlike any other horror movie you’re likely to see, and if you’re someone who loves getting lost in the lore and traditions of horror, The VVitch will get you wonderfully lost for it’s hour and a half runtime. It had a good sense to cut itself off when it did, because seeing too much of witch life would certainly ruin the eerie buildup it had. You could possibly even imagine there aren’t supernatural elements in it, but that’s no fun.
Amelia: Eight witches out of ten
The VVitch is a damn near perfect movie in my eyes. It’s dreary and bleak and absolutely harder to watch than a more “traditional” horror movie, but it’s the bleakness of it all that made this such a compelling movie to see through to the end. It’s a sort of gruesome curiosity that will keep you watching The VVitch, like a car wreck you stop to stare at in hopes of seeing some blood on the pavement. You can’t tell me that doesn’t intrigue you.