the witch trailer

If 2016 sees the release of a better horror movie than The Witch, we are in for one hell of a year. Emphasis on that “hell,” because writer/director Robert Eggers‘ tale of sin, paranoia, and unfiltered evil in 17th century New England is unholy brilliance. This is already a frontrunner for one of the best movies of 2016.

A24 has unveiled a new trailer for The Witch and it’s a fine sampler of the movie’s dark, delectable pleasures. You should most definitely watch it below.

Although already devoted genre fans are going to fall head-over-heels for The Witch, know that this isn’t a the most traditionally frightening horror movie around. There isn’t a single jump scare to be found in this film and Eggers actively dodges any and all horror cliches. This is a film that mines terror from its oppressive atmosphere and finely drawn characters. There is nothing easy about this film, which demands that you watch a family rot from within as a vaguely defined presence picks father, mother, and children apart, piece by piece. The Witch is a unnerving experience –  it stares into darkness and invites you to take a peek.

Oh, and it’s fun. And quotable. And with a risky 92-minute running time, it gets in and out without wasting a single second of your time. This is lean, mean, vicious filmmaking.

This trailer also offers fresh looks the main characters of the film. Ralph Ineson‘s patriarch William, an intensely religious man whose pride blinds him where it matters most. Kate Dickie‘s Katherine, the devoted mother who cannot understand why someone (or something) has targeted the souls of her family. Newcomer Ana Taylor-Joy‘s Thomasin, the oldest daughter who finds her faith crumbling after she is accused of witchcraft.

Oh, and there’s the goat named Black Philip. You will have plenty of things to say about Black Philip.

The Witch marks the feature debut of Eggers, but there is an attention to detail to his filmmaking that never betrays his inexperience. The world of The Witch, the wilds of 1630 New England, might as well be an alien planet and Eggers trusts us to keep up with his characters’ antiquated language and often unknowable lifestyle. He throws the audience into this meticulously designed world and never lets us come up for breath. By the time you find your feet, he’s already started pulling the ground out from underneath you. Eggers’ precise, confident filmmaking finds dread in every moment.

Here is the official synopsis for the film:

In this exquisitely made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family’s frightful unraveling in the New England wilderness circa 1630. New England, 1630. Upon threat of banishment by the church, an English farmer leaves his colonial plantation, relocating his wife and five children to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest – within which lurks an unknown evil. Strange and unsettling things begin to happen almost immediately – animals turn malevolent, crops fail, and one child disappears as another becomes seemingly possessed by an evil spirit. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, family members accuse teenage daughter Thomasin of witchcraft, charges she adamantly denies. As circumstances grow more treacherous, each family member’s faith, loyalty and love become tested in shocking and unforgettable ways. Writer/director Robert Eggers’ debut feature, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival – winning the Best Director Prize in the U.S. Narrative Competition – painstakingly recreates a God-fearing New England decades before the 1692 Salem witch trials, in  which religious convictions tragically turned to mass hysteria. Told through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin – in a star-making turn by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy – and supported by mesmerizing camera work and a powerful musical score, THE WITCH is a chilling and groundbreaking new take on the genre.

The Witch opens on February 19, 2016, a week earlier than originally intended. Hail Satan.

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