As one bad thing after another happens to one family, so comes the claim of witchcraft and the devil being the reason for their troubles.
Blood, Dead Animals, and Occultism
Review (with Spoilers)
William (Ralph Ineson) | Katherine (Kate Dickie) | Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) | Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw)
Life in the New Land isn’t easy. There are no apples, no real means of exhibiting privilege or wealth, and things are a constant struggle. It isn’t the type of life Katherine necessarily wants, but her husband William tries to make the best of it. Though as bad things happen to their children, with Thomasin usually involved, so they begin to question if perhaps she is the source of their troubles.
The Madness of Katherine
The, and excuse me for using what essentially is a sexist term, hysterical performance Dickie kind of ruins things. Like her character in Game of Thrones, there is a certain level of madness in her performance. However, while it seems the directors knew how to reign that in and utilize it within the show, for this movie it seems her experience was trusted and she was allowed to run amok. Not to the point she seems campy, but honestly, recognizing what she is going through, I feel that she was one of the many reasons I can’t understand the hype.
It Takes Itself Too Seriously & Gives You Little Reason To Do The Same
Recognizing the history of the Puritans, also that without William’s family being part of a town it limits their resources and access to basic things, honestly I found it hard to make a connection with the characters. For while Caleb, Katherine and William’s son, is likable, and of course, Taylor-Joy is as well, heck she is the reason I’m watching this movie, they just don’t have characters crafted in such a way to care. Though perhaps it is also the movie’s reliance on religion which is a problem. The constant talk of having the devil in you, praying for salvation, noting how we all are plagued by sin, honestly diluted the film’s serious tone for it makes you want to roll your eyes. For, while they speak of all this, they have a goat which looks like the symbol of the devil playing with their kids and the kids saying it talks to them.
On top of that, the way the witches are presented doesn’t inspire shock, awe, or even interest. There are no background stories told to build up the mystique of these witches. What happens is they appear, do something which can be considered screwed up, and don’t really say a word. Making perhaps the sole scary thing about them is one of them reminds you of Melisandre’s true form on Game of Thrones.
On The Fence
It Is Certainly Strange
From the potential of incest, possible depictions of demon possession, then the madness of Katherine, it is hard to deny that the film doesn’t lead you to raise an eyebrow. In fact, at some moments, those close enough to hear it, but aren’t watching it with you, may question what in the hell are you watching. Though, at times, you wonder the same thing.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
The horror genre remains stale and this film certainly isn’t an exception. For while it may try to boost itself by having quality actors, unfortunately, their characters are dull and the would-be villain is more so in their heads than something which can creep into ours. Leaving you with just a few unsightly depictions of the human body once it has aged and a few bloody moments as the sole source of what may keep you from falling asleep during this movie. That and Kate Dickie perfecting her ability to play people who have lost their wits.