Set under gray Puritan skies in a deathly autumn, “The Witch” is a slow-burning 1600s horror thriller so bone-dry it would only take a match for the whole movie to go up in flames.
“A New England folktale” is how the opening titles describe writer-director Robert Eggers’ impressively rigorous feature debut. The film doesn’t just take place in early 17th century America, but it has effectively summoned the nightmares and superstitions of the era, much of which Eggers faithfully reproduced from various historical sources.
The subject here is less witches as some supernatural fright than the Puritan psychology that dreamed them. Do not expect broomsticks.
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