Thoughts on THE VVITCH

Spoilers, obviously.

I just watched THE VVITCH for the first time. I heard that a lot of people loved it. One of my friends called it the best horror movie ever.

I have to disagree.

THE VVITCH had a few good moments, but overall it was a let-down from the beginning.

A big part of that was because of the music. They laid it on thick with the heavy, creepy music before anything creepy actually happened. For me, that automatically throws me out of a film. You have to earn your hardcore creepy music. You can’t just open up with it. They kept putting over-the-top music in places that would have been better served by silence or, at the most, something subtle and atmospheric. It’s the difference between feeling something drip on your cheek and brushing it away to find that your fingertips come away red, and having a bucket of blood dumped on you. One gives you an oh shit moment and a chill up your spine. The other is just gross.

But worse than that, the whole story depended on an actual witch and the devil doing evil things to destroy a God-fearing family. I found it sad, but not horrific.

What would have been really terrifying is if there hadn’t been anything supernatural involved.

A family exiled from their community, homesteading on a meagre farm at the edge of a dark wood. Bad soil, bad season. Crops rotting on the vine and no food nor help for at least a day’s ride. Starvation. Suspicion. Sickness and strange behavior. If they’d made it so that there were hints that there could be a witch–but never actually showed one–that would have been scary. Because then you’d be left wondering whether there’s something supernatural involved, or if this lonely, desperate family is doing these things to themselves and each other out of stress or revenge or boredom or delirium or brattiness, or some combination thereof.

Humans don’t need the devil to be horrible to each other, and that’s where real horror comes from. The actual presence of witches and devils cheapened the film and made it just plain sad. These people were unfortunate victims. That’s not horror, it’s tragedy.

For me, the best horror stories leave you wondering if there might be something lurking in the shadows. When it shows you exactly what’s there, the magic is lost. THE VVITCH was a good collection of the folktales we’ve collected about what witches supposedly got up to while good Christians were sleeping, but it wasn’t a good horror movie.

Did you watch THE VVITCH? What did you think?

What do you think?

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