The scariest visual of the day came during the previews when I knew before anything even showed up that there was going to be an evil doll in whatever movie was coming soon.
That’s not to say The Witch wasn’t fear-inducing. It was terrifying, but not in a pop-up-in-your-face-and-scream way. The chills from this movie were delivered psychologically.
Which is probably why much of the audience didn’t quite get it. I know this because when the movie ended, some of them exclaimed, “What the fuck?”
If you ask me, the film could have ended at a specific moment 10 minutes earlier, or 5 minutes earlier, both choices which would have left even more unanswered, but would have done more to drive home the idea that we may not ever know for sure what was going on with that family.
Regardless, the questions we’re left with are not so much, “What happened?” or even, “What the fuck?” but, “How did they get to that point?”
Is the movie trying to drive home a concept having to do with the danger of severe religious beliefs? Is it tackling the subject of what happens when close-knit relationships are tested? Is it illustrating the risks of totally isolating yourself from society? Or a combination of all 3? Or none of these?
Whatever the original intention of the filmmakers, The Witch succeeds in leaving an unsettled feeling that still, a day later, hasn’t fully gone away. Much like the spirit of the witch in the movie, whose presence is somehow always there even when it’s not, the idea that there may be an unshakable upset to whatever carefully laid plans we make is just as sinister–maybe more so–than a cackling demon flying through the air, making a deal with the devil.