The place is New England and the year is 1636. Superstition rules the world. A family starts a farm on the edge of the forest. As a babe disappears from its cradle an adolescent girl is accused of witchcraft. And all hell breaks loose when the members of the family turn on one another.
THE VVITCH premiered during last year’s Sundance festival and made a big splash, however this is a film better watched unprepared. Scoring raving reviews worldwide it almost reached the status of a blockbuster, but it is a very small art house film. Saying that, THE VVITCH still boasts realistic setting, great cinematography and impressive acting, particularly from the young actors. Giving enough small details, as well as vast beauty of the landscapes and the forest, THE VVITCH creates the world where God is replaced by fear and the love equals religion. This film is about damnation and religious fanatism and a very small line between them.
If you have forgotten how to be scared at the cinema by little more than the atmosphere, this is a perfect example how it can be done. There are practically no jump scares, and all the terror masterfully achieved through the visuals and mis-en-scene.
THE VVITCH is a scary movie, but it is also an exploration of faith. When the unity of the family breaks apart the word of a prayer has very little meaning. The religion is there to support love and not to replace it. When the family becomes nothing but a combination of strict religious rules, love can be easily replaced by seduction of evil. It is a very scary thought.
The deeper meaning for a small horror film comes at a price – THE VVITCH cannot be called particularly engaging. There is also a lack of originality in the script and character development. There’s no one particularly likable in the film, so it is very hard to care for any of the characters. (the little twins were so annoying I was hoping the witch will come for them sooner than later). I also found the ending less than satisfying.
With its interesting message and scares delivered spot on, I did not find THE VVITCH particularly entertaining, but this is an impressive directorial debut and an independent film that deserves to be seen. THE VVITCH is hard to like. But it sure is hard to forget.