‘The VVitch’ in Review

The Salem Witch Trials meet ‘Blair Witch Project’ in this film about darkness and spiritual corruption

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020


“The VVitch” is coming to the Woodland Theater Oct. 27-29. Prepare to witness evil in its many forms.

There’s something in the woods. And it’s not an animal.

Based off of historical records, folktales and written accounts, “The VVitch” not only serves as a haunting psychological horror, but reminds viewers of a darker, nonsecular time in American history.

“The VVitch,” titled with the period “VV” to reflect the uncommon usage of the letter W during the 1600s, is written and directed by Robert Eggers. This film follows the spiritual, psychological and physical downfall of a devout Christian family that has been banished from its Puritan community in 1630s New England. After the recently isolated family builds a farm on the edge of the woods, a sinister series of events begins to unfold, creating a foreboding, slow-building sort of horror experience.

Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the family’s oldest child, bears the brunt of these dark occurrences from the very beginning, when her baby brother disappears under her watch. As grief and anger begin to consume the family, particularly Thomasin’s mother (Kate Dickie), life only seems to become more bleak and suspenseful.

With every passing tragedy and hardship Thomasin’s family faces, the presence of something sinister and unnatural becomes more and more apparent to the young teen. At what is perhaps the family’s primary breaking point, Thomasin is accused of witchcraft by her younger siblings, who spark an immediate fear and distrust in the eyes of their parents.

While some speculation can be made about the family’s collective sanity and other natural influences, they are not alone in those woods. The evil presence affecting Thomasin’s family is personified in the image of a feral old woman who has apparently signed her soul over to the devil. Typically shown in brief sequences, the Witch of the Woods is just as much of a mystery to the viewer as she is to the other characters.

Fear, anger, paranoia and superstition all play critical roles in the unraveling of the Puritan family dynamic portrayed in “The VVitch.” There is evil lurking among them possibly even Satan himself and yet, it is far too easy for Thomasin’s devoutly religious father (Ralph Ineson) to condemn his eldest daughter for the curse that has fallen upon his family.

“The VVitch” explores themes like spiritual corruption, familial bonds, religious superstitions, cultural taboos and the idea of evil. These themes are further emphasized through the historically rigid time period the film is set in. Even the dialogue exchanged by the film’s characters comes from period sources, creating an otherworldly sense of religious propriety and cultural awareness.

Riddled with Christian and Pagan symbolism, “The VVitch” conjures up a sense of internal religious conflict that only serves to intensify the unsettling nature of the situation Thomasin’s family finds itself in.

Rated “R” for disturbing violence and nudity, “The VVitch” is not for the faint of heart. Satanic worship, supernatural acts of violence, and twisted imagery are only a few of the factors that make “The VVitch” a masterpiece of psychological horror.

Rotten Tomatoes gives “The VVitch” a score of 91 percent. IMDb gives “The VVitch” a rating of 6.8 out of 10.

“The VVitch” hits the Woodland Theater Oct. 27-29. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free for all UW-Eau Claire students who present their Blugold Card or Campus Films Pass.