October is the perfect time of year for scary movies but, while there are a lot of options available at your local movie theatre, an often-overlooked place to find a great horror movie is Netflix. Everybody knows about the old classics, but Netflix occasionally adds in a new contemporary. Often, they get overlooked at the theatre or don’t get as much press as they deserve. This is the case for “The Witch”, added to Netflix on September 17.
Built on a 4-million-dollar budget, the film managed to gain a respectable 40 million at the box office and was regarded as a masterpiece by many. It won numerous awards at events such as the Sundance Film Festival (where it debuted), the London Film Festival, the Empire Awards and many more. So then, if it is such a great movie and everybody loves it, why didn’t it make a much bigger splash?
The answer is because “The Witch” is unlike most other horror movies. There are no real jump scares or gore and the plot builds slowly and with purpose. Tension is created by the music and the actors rather than people jumping out of the dark. All of this can make “The Witch” feel boring or tedious to some, but for others, it is one of the most disturbing and scary pieces of film released in recent years.
Based in New England during the 1630s, the plot follows a Puritan family of colonizers trying to survive in the new world. Banished from their religious community over differences in beliefs, the family is soon subject to strange occurrences, disappearances of family members and their re-appearances after being subtly changed. Rumors about the woods begin to invade their home and soon the many disturbing events are suspected of being caused by a witch.
For a group of characters deeply invested in their religion, Satan and his followers are some of the most terrifying things they can imagine. As the family tries to deal with the fear of the unknown, of the evil in the woods and of an angry God, they begin to unravel.
Perhaps the most notable thing about the film though, is that all the actors speak only in Early Modern English. This means there’s a lot of “thys” and “thous” mixed throughout that helps sell the idea that these are real people living in colonial America. Their struggle feels authentic and as the story unfolds you would believe this is a folktale told in places like Salem Massachusetts, where the fear of witches drove a community to kill 20 people.
It’s hard to give more specifics without ruining the experience for you, so with that in mind, I encourage you to seek this film out. Turn down the lights, silence your phone. Load up Netflix and try to engross yourself in the setting. “The Witch” is worth the effort and more than worth the title of Movie of the Month.
Caleb Edwards is a junior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam