I’ll start by saying I like slow movies. I loved It Comes At Night which is one of the slowest and most anti-climactic horror movies ever. But I did not like The VVitch. It was too slow, the ending didn’t hit for me. I didn’t get it. I didn’t feel enough about Thomasin rising into power at the end.
For the uninitiated, The VVitch (2015) is a supernatural horror film about a family of protestant settlers, William and Katherine and their children Thomasin, Caleb, Mercy, Jonas and Samuel. who have been excommunicated from their colony. On their own in a secluded clearing the family deals with the disappearance of baby Samuel, lack of resources, and paranoia about witches in the nearby woods. Here’s the trailer:
I’m starting to think there are two kinds of horror fans: Blumhouse and A24. Despite my deep and abiding love for Midsommar, I fall into the Blumhouse camp. I like jump scares. I like murder mysteries. Give me a killer on the loose and a group of hot twenty somethings in a remote location. I don’t even mind found footage. I like to be scared and I need things to happen to advance the plot and hold my interest.
It could also just be an Ari Aster vs. Robert Eggers thing. I loved Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar and loathed Egger’s The VVitch and The Lighthouse. I really, really hated The Lighthouse. Even as a Robert Pattinson fan I felt it was basically unwatchable and not scary at all.
Maybe it’s because it’s a period piece. Or because the last thing I want to watch about at the end of an exhausting day living through a pandemic and seemingly insane men yelling at the sky in a way that negatively affects my life (I’m talking about politics here) is an angry religious man yelling at people who have no choice but to continue to follow and serve him. That was probably meant to contribute to the general sense of horror and claustrophobia of immersing myself into this families story, but it was less frightening than it was annoying.
In my opinion, the horror cannon should be: Lugosi, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Carpenter, Craven and some modern entries like Ti West, Ari Aster, and the Austrian duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. When I get myself into a story for an hour or two, I want a payoff. Even a crappy M. Night Shyamalan twist ending is satisfying for me, because at least it makes the plot exciting. Everyone talks about The VVitch being in their top horror movies and it’s just hard for me to see how it deserves this placement. There’s no joy in it. No thrill. Just dread.