The Witch – Review

Posted: March 23, 2016 in Reviews

Colonialism and Puritanism have always been a cinematic subject rife with horrific potential especially when coupled with religious zealotry and creepy ass goats. There lies something inherently evil in the maniacal words of those obsessed with the potential sins of their own faith and in ‘The Witch’ the family involved is indeed obsessed. In Director Robert Eggers debut, he impressively creates an authentic and isolated world in 17th century New England. A fog laden land surrounded by a most ominous wood, wherein an excommunicated family attempts to begin life anew. Their extreme ideals and resulting paranoia are soon tested when their youngest child seemingly vanishes in an instant. Quiet menace is allowed to grow fitfully taut as sinister occurrences come more and more frequently. Was the disappearance caused by a witch, a wolf or something else entirely? The thought that they may have angered their god soon grows so unbearable that their familial bond quickly deteriorates into potentially unfounded accusations and delusion until the ending leads to either a sort of transcendence or madness . The acting by the entire cast is stellar, particularly the four children whose skill the entire effectiveness of the film depends. Beautifully shot and accented by a frightening and striking score, ‘The Witch’ paints a vivid image of a desperate family whom appear to be living at both the end of the world and their own.

Advertisements

1. Martyrs

A crimson soaked nightmare of revenge and abuse that treads on the farthest edge of human cruelty. A painful watch that haunts for long after. A truly horrific viewing experience artfully told.

2. Session 9

A constant dread hangs over this tale of asbestos removers tasked with cleaning up a decommissioned asylum where an evil may still live. A gloriously moody atmosphere and score complements a gorgeously decaying setting.

3. Inside

A psychotic bloodbath that details the extremes one woman will go for “her” baby.

4. Pontypool

A twist on the zombie genre where the spread of the disease isn’t from a bite, but something else entirely.

5. REC

The grandest of all found footage films. The terror in this virus picture mercilessly rises and rises until reaching a crescendo once “that” room is discovered.

6. Trick r’ Treat

Four stories are brilliantly interwoven in this anthology that harkens back to the glory days of Amicus and televisions Tales from the Crypt.

7. Let the Right One In

A delicately handled coming of age story that just so happens to feature a centuries old vampire trapped in a child’s body.

8. The Devil’s Rejects

Plays like the darkest and ruthless Western ever made. Adheres to a more grounded realism than the over-the-top excess of it’s predecessor, House of a 1000 Corpses. Rob Zombies finest work.

9. Saw VI

The high-water mark of the series. Out of nowhere the franchise decides to tackle the health care debate to grand results. Something of  a vicarious experience for anyone who’s ever been wronged by corporate America.

10. The Children

An unexplained occurrence transforms a family’s children into remorseless psychopaths.

11. The Loved Ones

A girl scorned by a would be prom date kidnaps the poor lad where, along with her demented Father, metes out her own brand of violent retribution in true Grand Guignol fashion.

12. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

An innovative look at the beginnings of a would be slasher style mass murderer.

http://keithmoonshine.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/behind-mask-leslie-vernon.jpg

13. Freddy v. Jason

The two horror titans finally do battle where the real winner is the audience itself. So much could have gone wrong in this decade in-the-works monster mash, that the final result is a most welcome surprise. A bloody good time that gives each villain their turn to shine.

http://robsmovievault.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/freddy_vs_jason.jpg

14. The Descent

A claustrophobic descent into hell where the humans prove to be just as dangerous as the beasts. Be sure to see the English version with the proper ending.

https://i2.wp.com/www.geekquality.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/sarah.jpg

15. Fraility

Bill Paxton stars in and directs this Southern Gothic genre piece about a man who believes it’s his chosen duty to hunt down those he views as demons. The true horror lies in the way he drags his two boys into his holy mission.

https://i1.wp.com/www.tribute.ca/tribute_objects/images/movies/frailty/frailty1.jpg

16. Severance

A killer runs amok during a companies team-building retreat in the woods. A welcome addition to the slasher film canon.

https://i2.wp.com/fandomania.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/74severance.jpg

17. Human Centipede

Not nearly the gory spectacle its reputation would suggest. The performance of Dieter Laser is as memorable as the titular character itself.

18. The Tripper

A loving homage to the slashers of yesteryear complete with a Ronald Regan masked killer terrorizing a would be outdoor rave.

https://foulasylum.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/35fb0-tripper0.jpg

19. Slither

Aliens invade a small town turning many into disgusting mounds of twisted flesh. Good thing a very game Nathan Fillion is on the case.

https://i0.wp.com/www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/slither-hd/slither-hd_eshot10l.jpg

20. Lake Mungo

A well done mockumentary that opens with a teenagers death and proceeds to trace the aftermath on the family left behind whom believe the supernatural have been involved.

https://foulasylum.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/f5ea9-lakemungo2008image1.jpg

1. Jacob’s Ladder

Follows one man’s nightmarish descent into his own psychological hell. Terrific performances and disturbing Joel Peter Witkin inspired visuals highlight this unnerving character study.

2. The Exorcist III

A cringe worthy sequel to the first. Arresting religious and slow-burn evil complement the crackling chemistry between George C. Scott, Brad Dourif and a returning Jason Miller. The infamous nurse/hallway scene is a thing of unforgettable beauty.

3. Silence of the Lambs

It is debatable to some whether this falls into the horror category or not but Ted Levine’s, Buffalo Bill creation, pushes this film above the standard crime thriller.

4. New Nightmare

A meta take on a real world Freddy. An interesting debate on the true nature of evil.

5. Audition

A years-long widow auditions potential new brides under the guise of a film casting call to disastrous results. It remains the only theatrical experience I’ve had to walk out of to simply take a breather.

6. Cure

A man is possibly driving people to murder through the power of suggestion and hypnosis in the slow-burn Japanese thriller.

7. Alien 3

David Fincher’s debut is an unfairly maligned entry into the series. The prison setting provides a claustrophobic atmosphere while the director’s cut adds character depth. Sigourney Weaver again shines in her signature role.

8. In the Mouth of Madness

John Carpenter’s last solid genre entry is a Lovecraftian influenced tale of a best-selling author whose work is coming prophetically to pass.

9. Ringu

The original creepfest features a cursed video tape that kills those who have the misfortune of viewing it.

10. Dellamorte Dellamore aka Cemetery Man

Francesco Dellamore is the lovelorn guardian of a small cemetery who frequently battles the ever rising dead in this somewhat philosophical zomcom.

11. Dead Alive

May be the undead genre’s finest over-the-top bloodbath. Blood, blood then more blood flows in this romance gone sideways.

12. The Blair Witch Project

The film that ushered in the found footage renaissance. Remains an effectively ominous, lost in the woods chiller.

13. Bride of Chucky

More comedic that it’s predecessors. The change of direction breathes new life to the franchise. How they convinced Jennifer Tilly and John Ritter to appear in this I’ll never know, but am certainly glad they did.

14. Wishmaster

Perhaps the “guiltiest” pleasure on the list. Andrew Divoff’s commitment to his evil Djinn bring’s the B movie material into something much closer to an A. Somewhat hammy, but a damn tasty ham.

15. Popcorn

Someone’s reenacting “The Possessor” whose only previous showing ended in the murder of the director’s family by the director himself.

16. Ebola Syndrome

Gross, graphic and an affront to all sense of decency. Anthony Wong’s gonzo performance is mesmerizing in its complete lack of vanity.

17. Scream

Commercially revitalized the slasher genre from the doldrums. Remains the best of the 90’s teen slashers. The self awareness of the genre’s cliches is cute, but it’s the loose limbed ferociousness of the killer(s) that sets it apart.

18.Ravenous

The legends of Wendigo and the Donner Party blend together in this oddly toned film set in the in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada’s during the mid 1800’s.

19.Candyman

Clive Barker’s story of the urban legend known as Candyman, the murdered son a former slave who brandishes a hook for a hand. The tackling of social issues adds depth to the story where it’s usually lacking in the genre.


*20. Lost Highway

(May or may not be considered horror, but creepy as hell none-the-less and deserves acknowledgment. Consider it an honorable mention as it would rate much higher if thought of as a genre picture. )

The first thirty minutes or so are an eerie, voyeuristic noir dripping with atmosphere. Robert Burke’s devilish presence haunts the proceedings of this segment. The second half is less horror influenced but certainly nightmarish in that uniquely Lynchian way.

1. The Thing

Incredible practical effects, an outstanding ensemble cast, a desolate Antarctic setting all make for a nearly flawless film about an invader with the ability to look just like us.

2. The Shining

A beautifully staged journey of a man’s descent into madness that may or may not be caused by the spirit’s that linger in the hotel he and his family is charged with caring for during the cold isolation of winter.

3. Prince of Darkness

For centuries a brotherhood of priests has been guarding an object believed to contain the essence of Satan’s son. That object has begun to awaken.

4. City of the Living Dead

A reporter and a psychic set out to close the gates of hell that have opened after the suicide of a priest. Lucio Fulci’s trademark zombie gore is in full effect in this somewhat surreal masterpiece.

5. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

A brutal depiction of a killer whose most effective weapon may be his complete lack of remorse.

6. Friday the 13th Part IV

The pinnacle of Jason at his most effectively violent and cruel. A surprisingly sympathetic cast (a rarity in this series) featuring stand out performances by Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman help this “Final Chapter” rise above its other entries.

7. The Beyond

Again Fulci delivers brilliant zombie decay in this bizarre tale of a door from hell opening below the decrepit remains of an old hotel.

8. Tenebrae

Perhaps Argento’s most stylishly violent film. An author on a promotional tour in Europe finds the murderous plots of his stories are coming cryptically to life.

9. The Fog

The legend of a leper who set out to establish a colony only to have the gold he set out to fund his venture stolen from him. Now, in the fog, he and his brethren set out for their revenge.

10. Poltergeist

Remains an effective yarn of a suburban family undone by the malevolent ghosts whom steal their daughter.

11. Nightmare on Elm St.

A shot of originality into the creative ennui of the mid 80’s slasher. The original incarnation of the Freddy Kruger sandman stands above the majority of the genre’s madmen.

11. Alone in the Dark

Jack Palance and Martin Landau tear it up as loonies who wander away from the asylum during a city wide power outage while an equally game Donald Pleasance, amongst others, try to track them down

.

12. Re-Animator

“Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders… And Another One In A Dish On His Desk.” That tagline pretty well sums up the tone of this darkly comic horror piece.

13. Evil Dead Trap

14. Maniac

Joe Spinell co-wrote the screenplay as a star vehicle for himself and knocks it out of the park. His performance as the killer prone to scalping his victims makes for one of horror’s sleaziest villain’s.

15. Superstition

16. The Boogeyman

A solid and underseen supernatural slasher featuring fine directing by Ulli Lommel (who knew he had it in him) and equally creative kills. The bizarre set-up of a murderer trapped in a mirror is surprisingly effective.

17. My Bloody Valentine

One of the more professionally executed of the Eighties slashers. It’s focus on adults rather than teenagers harkens back a bit to another Canadian slasher, Black Christmas. Harry Worden and his pick-ax make for a memorable villain.

18. Waxwork

A bloody fun homage to the horror of yesteryear featuring vampires, werewolves, the aforementioned wax and the Marquis de Sade himself.

19. Don’t Go in the House

A delightfully sleazy companion to Maniac that fronts another sap who can’t quite handle his hatred of women. Star Dan Grimaldi graduated to becoming a major player on The Sopranos.

20. Happy Birthday to Me

Creative kills litter this well-made slasher. A particularly gnarly ending stands out when the killer is alas revealed.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Merciless from the opening frame. Tobe Hooper’s brutal opus is unrelenting in its savagery and discomfort all while blanketed in the searing Texas heat. The Sawyer family is the embodiment of the suburban nightmare come to life. Leatherface remains one of horror’s greatest creations and the dinner scene one of its most chilling.

2. Halloween

John Carpenter’s masterpiece remain on cinema’s finest depictions of unexplainable evil. An expertly crafted tale wound as tight as possible. Jamie Lee Curtis creates the quintessential final girl while Donald Pleasance’s gravitas add’s the voice behind Michael Myers silent butcher.

3. Black Christmas

The granddaddy of the modern slasher. An unknown assailant lays prey to a sorority house during the quiet of Christmas break. The killer brandishes on the eeriest voices in horror lore. A splendid cast rounds out a top notch production.

4. The Exorcist

Director William Friedken and author William Peter Blatty spin a religious tale that eats to the deepest core of American fears. The corruption of innocence, loss of faith and a defiance of gods will weigh heavy in one of the most celebrated horror films of all time.

5. Zombi 2

Zombies are alas depicted as the grotesque, decaying creatures that by definition they are. Gone is Romero’s satire and instead replaced by brilliantly executed gore. Features films first zombie v. shark underwater battle. This began Lucio Fulci’s brilliant run of aberrant works including: City of the Living Dead, They Beyond and House by the Cemetery.

6. Alien

One by one the crew of the Nostromo are slowly hunted by one of the nastiest creatures ever conceived. Ridley Scott’s hugely influential achievement mixes horror and sci-fi as none had before and few have since. HR Giger’s monster is exquisitely beautiful in its design.

7. Phantasm

Nightmare logic flows through this often surreal tale of brothers and an ice-cream man caught in the bizarre world of a mortician who definitely isn’t what he seems.

phantasm

8. Jaws

A horror, thriller and adventure all rolled into one tightly wrapped bow. All three genre’s are served wonderfully in Spielberg’s genre highmark. Robert Shaw’s masterful performance shines bright while the titular shark lurks in the abyss.

9. The Omen

An ominous telling the devil reincarnate told through the distinct visual lense of the 70’s. The gritty and realistic tone add a complexity not typically found in the evil child genre.

10. Dawn of the Dead

A glorious satire of braindead consumerism told via the actual braindead. Tom Savini’s revolutionary effects are put to glorious use.

11. The Sentinel

One of the goddamned creepiest gonzo endings of any film of any decade. An apartment building full of eccentric loonies welcome a new tenant to the building and quiet hell begins to ensue.

12. The Legend of Hell House

A dead serious version of a paranormal investigation relating to a particularly nasty house. Roddy Mcdowall steals the show as the alarm warning the group of imminent danger.

13. Deep Red

The nadir of Dario Argento’s collection of Giallo’s. Gorgeously styled both visually and sonically with Goblin’s classic and influential score. Wonderful kills.

14. Tombs of the Blind Dead

The Knights Templar have never been put to better cinematic use. The gothic setting and eerie slow motion riding of the dead themselves creates and unnerving atmosphere. Followed by three enjoyable sequels.

15. Suspiria

Witches hide in plain sight amidst a German Ballet School. Gorgeous photography and dreamlike scenarios haunt this Argento classic.

16. Don’t Deliver us from Evil

One of the most underrated and underseen entries into the children meddling with witchcraft genre. Two teenage girls begin dipping their toes in Satanism and are soon fully immersed in the occult. Features and unforgettable ending.

17. Don’t Look Now

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie give tender performances as a couple grieving with the loss of their child. The anguish begins to overtake Sutherland leading to one of horror’s most shocking conclusions.

18. The Wicker Man

The isolated community of Summerisle harbors a dark secret just below its seemingly idle vestige. Sir Christopher Lee guides a policeman through pagan madness.

19. Carrie

Stephen King’s first cinematic adaptation, and still one of his finest, gets top notch efforts from Director Brian De Palma and star Sissy Spacek as the outcast bullied by both her high school classmates and religious fundamentalist zealot of a mother.

20. Tourist Trap

Who knew The Rifleman himself Chuck Conners would be capable of such a disarming character. He brings traces of Anthony Perkins’ Psycho charm to a man obsessed with wax and marionettes. Not just any marionettes, but the creepiest ones imaginable.