Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The VVitch

of 10 viewers "Liked" "The VVitch" (USA, 2016)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Speed Demon - "Atmospherically amazing. Story wise not interesting and boring. Disappointing to the fullest. One of those films where if you've seen the previews, then you've seen the movie." - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "The Witch was a highly anticipated film for me this year. I went in knowing I'd like this film before even seeing it. The atmosphere and acting are very strong and spot on. Watching the film progress, I felt I was in their world which I feel is hard for a film to accomplish. The pacing is on the slow side and I felt I missed things at times, especially with the thick old English accents, so a second viewing is definitely needed for me. I'm sure I'll like it even more the second time but this is a pretty solid horror film. I'm looking forward to what else Robert Eggers puts out in the future." - 4 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "This film feels so authentic, it kind of reminded me of Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner, where even the English feels like it's in another language. Each moment, each character, each line spoken feels completely part of its own world. The performances of all involved were mesmerizing, the conviction of each character makes the apotheosis so much more horrifyingly inevitable." - 5 Stars

Lord Battle - "Arthouse, slow-burn, and polarizing are all words that get me excited to watch a film. The Witch is definitely deserving of these labels, which are often applied to quickly wrap up a thought process or as corks for holes in the imagination. I find The Witch to be an incredibly strong film that becomes extremely unnerving with a little focus. The Witch also features amazing performances that transcend age and species. Yet I disagree with any who say the film transcends its genre, for no matter how much beautiful framing and rich history flow through The Witch's veins, her heart is horror." - 5 Stars

Huntress - "The Witch is not a film that you should watch at a distance; it's best to sit close up to the screen, pay attention, and get lost in the darkly detailed world being presented before you. Everything about this film was meticulously researched in order to feel authentic and that effort made an obvious difference, but also polarized audiences, which may actually add to its impact. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed The Witch until days later, when I heard a second of its haunting soundtrack, and was returned to New England once again." - 4.5 Stars

Dabbles - "Even though it took me a little bit to click into the way colonial people spoke, as soon as I clicked in things started to pick up. The imagery within each frame was as if from paintings, the drama was so juicy and rich with struggle, the young actors matched or even added to the intensity of the older actors in this movie, especially the kid who played Caleb, the older son. His performance stole the show with subtle motions and impactful emotion. Every actor played their characters beautifully. This director will go places with work like this." - 5 Stars

KillDozer - “I had built up quite a bit of anticipation for this film as the brilliantly edited trailer seemed to be everywhere and placed with every film for the last 5 months or more . A dark and eerie glimpse into a period of American history filled with paranoia, religion, and misplaced optimism. The mood and atmosphere of the film is set from the opening shots and stays consistent throughout. The attention to detail is such that you can tell a lot of love went into creating the look and feel of the film which makes sense since its writer/director Robert Eggers is mostly known for his work as a production and costume designer. Even the language used was period appropriate which seemed to throw the audience off at times but I felt was a good choice. The cinematography captured the mood of the film in the best ways, bringing the viewer into this isolated and dangerous world. The acting felt honest and sincere even when it came to the children. I have no idea what Eggers influences were but this film was dark and unforgiving as well as misleading (in all the ways a monster kid would hope). No spoiler here but I will say that this film seemed to have several endings all better than the one they ended up going with. All together a great witch film the deserves a second viewing.” - 4 Stars (collection worthy)

Creature of the ComiCombs - "The Witch definitely turned out to be something very different from what I was expecting. If you're looking for a new take on the horror genre, don't. Instead you should go in expecting an interesting take on a coming of age story. In the end, that's what this was, a coming of age story with witches. There were some really great shots and eerie scenery throughout the film. The first half played out pretty slow but there were enough unexpected moments and awesome visuals to keep me interested." - 3 Stars

Math Mage - "If you've seen the trailer then you've seen the movie. That's not to say it isn't good (it is); just that there are no surprises plot-wise. What is surprising is how well acted it is and how deep the characters are." - 3 Stars

Ice Giant - "It's a little hard to get into the puritan English but other than that this is a genuinely creepy movie. All the actors were spot on, especially the children, and even the goat. I was expecting everything in the movie to be very realistic so for it to throw out some fantastical elements was a weird but nice surprise. This movie almost suffered the fate of being way over-hyped and I am really glad it didn't fall victim." - 4.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

“​Beginning February 10 in New York City, The Satanic Temple (TST) will launch premiere screenings of the highly anticipated historical horror film, The Witch, amid interactive performances and ritualized pronouncements of a “new Satanic era.” The Witch, opening in theatres nationwide on Feb. 19 opposite faith based biblical thriller Risen, has received the official sanction of TST, and has been described by Jex Blackmore (TST National Spokesperson) as a “transformative Satanic experience” unto itself.”
(The above notice is an official press release from the TST or The Satanic Temple. The TST was sent a screener copy of the film by indie label A24.)

The Witch is a thoughtful film which demands a lot of focus and energy. And since this section is reserved for interesting notes or discussion, I’d like to discuss Caleb coughing up the apple, which I’ve heard being referred to as confusing, unnecessary, and pretentious. In my experience writing about and discussing film, I’ve found these words (in most cases) to all mean the same thing, which is just that they don’t want to give the film any more energy. 
In this moment, the apple is both symbolic and a device to advance the narrative, not to mention carries a lot of weight as an occult symbol alone, often invoking emotions related to pure love or carnal lust. Venus is depicted holding the apple and she of course represents beauty as it is desirable. The apple often is shown as the forbidden fruit of the bible. An apple was thrown during a wedding party by the Goddess of Discord Eris, inscribed with the words “For the most beautiful one” and the Goddess Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all laid claim as each thought herself deserving.
In The Witch the apple also represents beauty and desire. After Caleb and his dad return home late from their hunting trip, they are greeted by Katherine who is furious with their recent absence. It becomes clear that this trip was made in secret and an argument quickly erupts between Katherine and William. As Katherine's anger increases, she begins to channel it on Thomasin, when Caleb jumps in and tells her the story about seeking out an apple tree he thought he saw earlier. The lie is not corrected by William and it becomes clear that he is a hypocrite and that Caleb, despite his religious training, is still capable of choosing to sin. Later when the apple appears from within Caleb, it symbolizes the forbidden fruit as described in the bible, as well as the coven's declaration of war on this “theocratic patriarchal society.”

NYC PREMIERE + EVENT "Awaken" DATE: Wednesday, February 10 

LA PREMIERE + EVENT "Rebel" DATE: Friday, February 12 

AUSTIN PREMIERE + PUBLIC RITUAL “Convoke” DATE: Tuesday, February 16 

(Dates and Names of the TST Screenings)

“The four ­part tour of interactive performances, entitled ‘The Sabbat Cycle,’ mirror the phases of “becoming” in the personal road to Satanism. The cycle begins with the theme of ‘Awakening’ to the primal self, followed by the ‘Rebellion’ of oppressive traditions, a ‘Convocation’ of the Satanic coalition and, finally, an ‘Ascension.’ The tour will end in Detroit at the end of the month. Interested participants should visit satanic­ for details regarding access to these events, which are limited.”
-From the TST Press Release

The Satanic Temple has named their screenings after the phases that Thomasin goes through. The events that make up the film's narrative ultimately build until she signs Black Philip's book. The TST is also asking people to officially register themselves into the “Book of Satan.” Is this a case of art imitating life or the reverse?
One brave journalist adventured into an old church in LA for the TST screening of The Witch and wrote in detail about the screening, response, and “Interactive Performances”. I highly recommend reading it (you can find it here).

- Lord Battle

All creatures reviewing attended the 9:45 screeing at The San Francisco Alamo DraftHouse on 2/18/16.
The poster used for the review was created by Nathan Anderson. (His tumblr here).
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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