Horror Cinema: The Witch (2015)

A horror cinema review of Robert Eggers’ The Witch by new contributor to the Devil’s Muse, the Bubonic Illiterate.
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I’ve always been a fan of witches. Rhea of the Coos, the witch from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower universe, is one of my favourite fictional characters. Many of my favourite films revolve around witches, too—Suspiria, Rosemary’s Baby, even Hocus Pocus, for the matter. Yet rarely in film do we see an accurate portrayal of the true witch of folklore, the Mother Nature turned rotten, the crusty old woman of the woods who relishes in black magic and carries out Satan’s will. Robert Egger’s witch, however, is an exception.

The Witch is a true period piece. It’s evident that a hefty amount of research went into nailing not only the set and costume design but into replicating the Puritan dialect of the time. As a result of the film’s authenticity to its era, the ensuing horror is both believable and effective.

Here’s what makes The Witch frightening:

• The witch works her way at the family from various angles, and the horror increases with each new burden brought upon them: the immediate robbery of their newborn, their inability to produce bountiful crops, the possession of the family’s eldest son, the deterioration of the mother’s faith. The family crumbles.

• There is more than a menacing witch at work here; the devil is along for the whole ride. The movie is satanic, evil as all hell.

• There are some beautiful night shots of the family’s plot of land—set against a gorgeous backdrop of black woods—that will render you feeling entirely vulnerable.

• She isn’t green-skinned or cauldron-tending. She’s what you want her to be: gross.

Some of the scenes are drawn out and uneventful, and you might find yourself wondering when the real scares are coming. Additionally, some of the dialogue can be tricky to understand. While these things might deter some viewers, I found it greatly worthwhile to stick it out ‘til the film’s end; the final scene crams an abundance of evil down your throat. The camera work is chilling, and paired with the anxiety-inducing score and audio effects, the climax administers a nice dose of dread. Not only is it scary, but the final scene puts a unique spin on one character’s happy ending, which I found to be a wicked (pun totally intended) wrap-up.

She’s the witch you’ve been waiting for, and like her—ruthless and horrid—this film is the one you’ve been begging the genre to produce.

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Eggers, Robert. The Witch, A24, 2015.

Chucky’s Doll Blood Pact?

Did you know that in the original screenplay for Child’s Play, Chucky was the manifestation of Andy’s Rage?
chuckyThe iHorror.com blog explains: “In the original version of the film, Chucky would do Andy’s subconscious bidding. The original idea was to have Good Guy dolls that had latex skin and blood. If the kids ripped the latex skin, they could go out and buy Official Good Guy bandages. Being the lonely kid that he was, Andy would make a blood pact with the doll, and then comes to life whenever he goes to sleep. Chucky would take out anyone Andy saw as an enemy or a threat.”

Read four more facts about the movie on iHorror.com’s 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Child’s Play.

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Holland, Tom. Child’s Play. United Artists, 1988.

Leatherface: Origin

Leatherface is my favourite horror movie villain. He’s a mad, merciless, messy killer.

Did you know that the real-life killer who inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface, Ed Gein, also inspired two other famous horror movie villains? According to chasingthefrog.com, his crimes also inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho’s Norman Bates and The Silence of the Lamb’s Buffalo Bill.

Hooper, Tobe. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bryanston Pictures, 1974.

All of Them Witches: Rosemary’s Baby

Movie review
Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby

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When pushed to answer what is my favourite horror movie, I reply, “Rosemary’s Baby.” I’ve watched it nearly once a year since I first saw it as a preteen.

One of the features that I particularly love about horror movies is that, sometimes, the bad guy wins. Growing up, I always wanted to read a comic or see a movie where the bad guy won in the end. It didn’t make sense to me that the hero always had to have the advantage.

After first seeing Rosemary’s Baby, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the final scene. It was grotesque and perfect: the Anti-Christ was born healthy and would be loved by his mother in a twisted, Satanic retelling of the immaculate conception.

My other favourite aspect of the movie is the psychological horror. Watching Rosemary unravel the secret that her neighbours are “all of them witches” and to watch her be fed to the wolves by the ones she loved and trusted most is, to me, the scariest possible thing that could happen to someone. It is also something that happens to women all the time, especially in the time that the movie was released. To me, it is an added layer of horror to watch her be treated as a possession knowing that the story is likely familiar to so many of my sisters and foremothers.

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Polanski, Roman. Rosemary’s Baby, Paramount Pictures, 1968.