Directed by: Robert Eggers
Written by: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie and Harvey Scrimshaw
The most terrifying thing about The Witch is the unrelenting sense of hopelessness that pervades nearly every moment. A self-proclaimed “New England folktale” set on a small farm in 1630, Robert Eggers’ immersive debut feature seems to curse its young protagonist and the rest of her Puritan family from the beginning.
Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the eldest of her parents’ five children, a teenager who is old enough to look after her siblings but too young to earn their respect. Her father William (Ralph Ineson) moves the family out of a settlement over a religious disagreement with the other townspeople. The family sets up a small, isolated farm on the edge of a forest, and their arrival is marked almost immediately by devastation. While Thomasin watches over her newborn brother, the baby mysteriously vanishes when she covers her eyes during a game of peekaboo. A close-up showing her smile turn to horrified confusion after she removes her hands from her face and sees an empty blanket is one of the movie’s many indelible images.