So, this is a movie that has received a lot of hype, and maybe that colours my impression. But I don’t think so. I have seen effective period horror before, and this is not quite there.
The good: the period aesthetic is great and the commitment to it is admirable – the clothes, the buildings, the language, everything works. The cast is also excellent and everyone should be commended for their commitment.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear this guy hasn’t made a feature before. There are two major problems. The first is less of a huge problem: the score is excessively “creepy” even at times when it shouldn’t be. It appears to be attempting to make up for the fact that the movie is not creepy enough. But this is not the big problem. If the other, bigger problem wasn’t an issue, the score likely wouldn’t have been an issue for me.
The main problem is the way the story is told: first of all, they break the cardinal rule of horror movies and show us the witch something like 15 minutes into the movie. We’re supposed to be scared now? Not only do we generally know what she looks like, but the whole angle of Thomasin maybe being the witch is ruined for the audience. If you don’t show the witch, we the audience are with the family and that’s scarier. And then these movies usually have some kind of clear moral. Here’s it’s just that they wanted to worship their own way. But there are hints of incest (only the slightest hints) that would have been much more rewarding with the rest of the story had we known for sure there was incest. As the GF said, it’s not good when you feel like the new witch is better off now that she has become a witch, but had the incest angle been pursued, maybe that would have actually made some sense.
Anyway, this is a film I wanted to like more than I did. A better director would have made it creepy