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Tag-Team Review: The Witch

Contributor Matt Bellamy makes his triumphant return to The Basement when he and I headed to the multiplex this eve to take in Robert Egger's acclaimed horror flick The Witch. Naturally, we were compelled to set down and "discuss" this film, which is sure to polarize movie and horror fans everywhere.

That being said, does this festival fave hold up for a couple of die hards like Matt and I? Stick with us!

Jason: Hmmmm. Where to begin? Well, if you go in expecting the latest Hollywood horror offering -- a reboot, remake, found-footage flick, slasher movie or something based on a board game -- you'll be disappointed. This isn't THAT kind of horror movie, is it, Matt?

Matt: An original horror property released onto a mainstream audience -- what?? How bizarre and refreshing in this age of remakes, sequels, prequels, and yes… board-game adaptations. Although The Witch would make for one hell of a Parker Brothers Saturday night in with the family! Complete with disgusting baby mashings right off the hop! Advice for aspiring filmmakers: if you want to grab your audience from the get-go, kill an infant.

Jason: And that's just the beginning of this gruelling endurance test. And that's not me being mean. This movie will turn your stomach, get under your skin, and do its damnedest to unsettle you to the core. If you are on board, it will succeed. This is old-school horror. Not old-school American horror, but real horror. One that relies on atmosphere, tension, and its own confidence in its ability to scar your mentally.

Matt: I wouldn't say that I was scared by The Witch. It didn't frighten me like I was preparing myself for it to do after watching the trailer, and hearing the fantastic word-of-mouth surrounding it. But the atmosphere was pure dread at times, and as far as slow burners go, this was totally one of the most disturbing I've seen in quite some time. It sneaks up on you, too. I found I was becoming so engrossed in the period, setting, and day-to-day colonial life that I wasn't prepared for when that axe eventually struck. And boy did it. There is some imagery in here that is going to stay with me for awhile.

Jason. Kudos to writer/director Robert Eggers for taking the time he did to research 1630s New England and the tales and fables of witchcraft. He even captured the speech patterns of the era, which can make the movie hard to understand at times, but it works in the film's favour. And the man has talent to burn. The Witch is a work of dark art. It could almost work as a period drama, but it's a horror movie through and through.

Matt: That was unfortunately one of the initial drawbacks for me, the language. I found myself straining frequently to understand what the characters were saying to each other, and on a future watch (which there absolutely will be) I may even turn on subtitles to get the gist of some of the back and forth. I feel like this is a horror film that is not easily digested upon first viewing, and I'll need to think on it some more to come to a more concrete verdict. But, as it stands right now, I was extremely impressed with the experience of it, and fully intend to dive back into that spooky world.

Jason: As will I. It's about an hour after leaving the theatre, and this movie is still with me. There's a tension in my gut that most horror flicks don't leave me with, and that's impressive. I don't think this will play well with mainstream horror fans, but those who like pure, old-fashioned horror movies should give it a go.


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