Given initial reviews and reception at Sundance, The Witch may be the next Babadook or It Follows or whatever other recent exemplary horror film you might use in the continuous battle to prove genre-film detractors wrong. Its trailer was just released, and that alone is so terrifying that it’s at once difficult to sit through and so riveting it’ll seem you’re under a *witch’s* spell binding you to your seat.
The film takes place, as Collider notes, in a pre-Salem Witch Trial New England, in 1630. It follows a family with five children after they’re turned away from their village due to the patriarch’s complaint that the community isn’t religious enough. As The Guardian’s four-star review put it, “the first Puritan settlers in North America left England to pursue their strict religious doctrine. So you could imagine how extreme a man who felt he had to leave that community to live a more ascetic life would be.”
They settle in a very ominous spot, naturally located just next to thick woods. According to the official description, “When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another.” Then a series of horrific things, shown fragmentarily in the trailer, happen to bonneted children and earn director Robert Eggers Best Director at Sundance (and directorship of an upcoming Nosferatu remake).
With the official description also saying, “The Witch is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil,” it sounds that, similar to the beloved Babadook, the film partially posits repressive familial pressures as an internalized evil that’s provoking a larger myth. (Which is always far more enticing than, simply, “witch.”)
The movie will be out in theaters in 2016. Watch the trailer:
Here’s the poster: