HomeMovie ReviewsThe Witch, and Ye Olde Cap'n!

The Witch, and Ye Olde Cap’n!


The Captain weighs in on the film portion of The Witch:

The Witch! Burn the witch! Or I guess I should call it Vitch since it seems to be spelled with two V’s. So I guess Va-Vitch?

I was apprehensive about seeing this film. Hearing that it was in old English was an instant turnoff. It doesn’t matter how cool a film looks, if it sounds like an old Shakespeare play, I’m tapping out. Like the new Macbeth film with Michael Fassbender. I made it about 3 minutes before I had to turn it off. It’s like watching a foreign film without any subtitles.

And it was no different here. I had no idea what anyone was saying in this film. Sometimes they’d say a random word I could understand, kind of like if you watch enough Korean or Chinese films, eventually they’ll say something you recognize. McDonalds. AOL. American baseball!

Because the language was such a problem for me, most of the time I felt so disengaged by everything that was happening.

I’ll start off with my main complaints right away. I think this story would have been better if you never saw the witch. Knowing that there actually is something out in the woods kind of kills any suspense.

It would have been better if you really had no idea what or who was doing these things. Or if anything was happening at all. Everything that is happening could easily be explained away.

But nope, first few minutes you see the witch kill a baby and take a soothing bath in its blood.

So plot.

Jedidiah… Okay, his name isn’t Jedidiah, but he looks like a Jedidiah. William and his family of 6 get kicked out of their settlement. I want to say this takes place in America, the family keeps talking about how they miss England. So my thinking is they’re early settlers.

They get kicked out, I guess because they were too religious. And for puritans, that has got to be pretty extreme. Not wanting to be told what to do, William takes his family to the forest where they find a nice patch of land to start their new home.

The eldest daughter Thomasin, played by the lovely Anya Taylor-Joy. I can say lovely because she is an adult, I checked. She’s 20. Though in the film she looks 13 or something. I thought it seemed kind of weird at the end to have a 13 year old strip down to nothing and go frolicking through the woods… but she isn’t 13, she is an adult, don’t freak out.

Another random thing that didn’t work for me was the music or score. It just seemed so generic for this kind of movie. There’s this band called Giles Corey, very dark and moody… I’m not saying it would have fit perfectly, but… no, actually I am saying that. They both kind of share the same themes… check the album out, see if you agree.

Back to The VVitch!

Thomasin is playing a game of peekaboo with a baby, the infant is suddenly snatched up. They explain this possibly being the work of wolves, even finding tracks. But they show us what really happened almost instantly, so… It was the red witch from Game of Thrones without her magic necklace. Creepy naked old lady. She kills the baby and gives herself a rubdown. As one does.

Right there, any mystery is now gone. Whenever anything creepy or unusual happens on the farm, we know it must be the work of the witch.

Now that the baby is missing, which doesn’t seem to matter to anyone but the mom, who looks like the life was sucked out of her by each child she has given birth to. She does nothing but cry all day. Which is understandable, I guess.

As for everyone else it is kind of business as usual.

Another problem that has stricken this family is their failing crop. This is their main source of trade and food. With this gone they are pretty much going to starve to death.

That is when the father William and his eldest son Caleb go off in the woods to hunt. But they make it seem like they never do this, maybe it was explained in passing dialogue, dialogue which I couldn’t understand, so for the most part I thought maybe they didn’t eat meat. They were America’s first vegans. But then I remembered the traps they set that also failed to catch anything. Maybe William is just a really shitty wilderness man. He can’t farm, he can’t hunt…

Instantly William shoots himself in the face. To be fair, the rifle backfired on him. Was this the work of the witch?! We keep seeing this rabbit, which I’m guessing we are supposed to believe is the witch or something? Maybe?

The other strange occurrence being the youngest siblings. They might seem like your typical ADHD children that talk to their black Billy goat who they have named Black Phillip. But seeing as we know everything is the cause of this witch, we know the goat is evil and possibly so are the kids.

Actually, I don’t even know what happens to the twins. I’m skipping a head here, but they just vanish from the movie at one point. Okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s roll this back up a bit.

The creep factor is also amped up a bit by Caleb who keeps sneaking glances at his hot sister. Caleb ends up sneaking out into the woods to hunt for food when he runs into the witch, who is now extremely hot. Just like the red witch from Game of Thrones, but maybe a bit bustier.

Instantly Caleb is seduced. I can’t blame him, the witch is now played by a model named Sarah Stephens. Google her. You won’t be disappointed.

When Caleb comes back, he seems possessed or infected… I don’t know. My guessing is he got a witch STD.

So Caleb dies.

He should have listened to that old adage, an apple a day, keeps the witch’s snatch away. What? Is that not a saying? It should be! It could save lives!

The twins blame Thomasin, even going as far as accusing her of being a bitch… I mean witch. They even fake being put under a spell by her. Which seems a bit cruel seeing as their brother literally just died right in front of them. Maybe not the best time to play pretend, you jerks!

Fearing his children could actually be in league with the devil, he locks them up in the barn. So here is where things mostly just fall apart, at least story wise.

The mom has a mental breakdown, thinking her dead kids are talking to her, asking her to sign the devil’s book. But in reality we see a crow snacking down on some yummy puritan titty meat.

When William wakes up, he sees the rest of his sheep are now dead and Thomasin is just sleeping on the ground. What seemed to happen was the witch showed up and was sucking down some goat milk. After that I really have no clue as to what happened.

Did the witch take the twins? I mean, they seemed to be in league with the black goat Black Phillip, so… They just vanish from the film after that.

Black Phillip shows up and kills William. Pretty easily too. You’d think a little goat couldn’t be able to do that much damage. And yet he is gored and karate chopped into a woodpile.

Crazy mom wakes up to find Thomasin hovering over her dead father. Thinking this is her doing, she attacks her.

Thomasin stabs her to death. Now being the only one left, she goes to Black Phillip and asks to be a witch I guess. Which he grants.

In the end she strips down and walks out into the woods to hang out with a bunch of other witches. They float up into the sky and we see credits.

And that is The Witch. Did I like this? Not really. It was trying its damnedest to be scary, but I found to be so tame. The fact we see the witch in the first 3 minutes of the film really ruins any suspicion this film could have had about what was going on. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I found it to be such a misstep, that I feel I must keep bringing it up.

The strange things that happen are the following, bloody eggs, bloody goat milk, and dying crops. Minus the missing and dying kids, this could just be a part of the hardships of living as first time settlers. Them being ultra-religious puritans, using witchcraft as a way to easily explain it away. And I like that better than yup, just a witch out in those woods pulling pranks.

Don’t reveal the witch until the very end, hell, never reveal the witch. Make it all in their heads, full of religious paranoia and terrible farming.

Or make is so damn clear that there really isn’t anything going on, THEN drop that it was mister billy goat this whole time. I know, still a bit cliché, but the way the film is doesn’t really work.

Puritans did a bunch of weird shit back then. From lesbianism to even bestiality. If the wives weren’t fucking each other, they were fucking the livestock. You go a little mad out there.

Now if you excuse me, I have more pictures of Sarah Stephens to creepily gawk at.

Want more helpful screenwriting tips and movie/script reviews? Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.

And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Blood and Fire

Hank here. This is my first REQUESTED review from Amazon Studios which I'm excited about. *Sidenote* Thanks to Lauri for taking my review in stride, and...


The Bad News First