TIFF Report: The Witch

Who’s in it: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Who’s behind it: First-time feature writer/director Robert Eggers

Who’ll love it: Open-minded horror buffs that aren’t allergic to art-house period dramas.

What it’s about: Set sometime during the 17th century in Puritan New England, this supernatural horror-drama follows the gradual disintegration and decimation of an exiled family of settlers trying to fend for themselves in a small farm in the backwoods. Before long, it becomes evident that a wicked supernatural force is lurking in the forest—or is it one of their own clan?

Why you should see it: The Witch already earned first-time feature filmmaker Robert Eggers the Best Director award at this year’s Sundance—and rightly so. Eggers’ detail-oriented direction recalls Stanley Kubrick’s haunted hotel masterpiece, The Shining (notably in the scoring, shot symmetry, and freaky twins department), but this is a wholly original nightmare about family, faith, and the occult. Casual horror fans might find themselves challenged by the film’s minimalist narrative, but The Witch’s slow, ominous burn is considerably more unsettling than any jump scare or gruesome fatality that passes for horror these days. Just as credible as the film’s meticulous production is its central cast, all of whom are entirely convincing as a god-fearing family on the brink of witchcraft-driven destruction.

When you can see it: Friday, September 18 at 6:15pm (Ryerson) and Saturday, September 19 at 9:15pm (The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema). Tickets available here.

Turn off the lights and watch the creepy trailer here, and check out the poster below:

The Witch