the witch influences

Let’s start with The Shining. There are a few similarities here. A few on the surface and a few that are a little buried. Both films are about families under assault by a supernatural threat that ultimately tears them apart. Was this similarity something you actively thought about while making The Witch or am I just jumping to conclusions here?

It’s a little bit of both. Honestly, my horror movie appreciation is a little weird. I like Hammer horror movies and I like the Universal stuff. That’s the kind of stuff I could deal with as a kid because anything else was too scary. I look at it sort of nostalgically. I don’t covet bad movies like a lot of people who are really into genre. I just don’t care!

The Shining is one of the few classic horror movies that always scared me and really always worked. When I first started making films, short films, it was a film that I watched a lot and tried to dissect until it wasn’t scary anymore. It took a lot of watchings to do do that. When I watch The Witch, sometimes I’m a little disgusted by how much of my film flagrantly reeks of The Shining. At the same time, I will admit that if it wasn’t for that, I don’t think the film would be working for people at all. [Laughs.]

I’m happy you brought up Hammer. There are some direct connections between your film and much of the Hammer canon. The period setting and, I don’t want to say “prestige,” but the feeling that you’re making an actual movie. There’s a sense of class to some of the best Hammer stuff, usually brought about by actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. I think the same applies to The Witch.

Yeah, for sure.

On a few occasions when writing about your film, I’ve used the phrase “Kubrickian” to describe how it feels. That’s a bit of a cliche, but both his work and yours feel meticulously planned. Your film feels researched and every aspect feels thought through. Kubrick was famous for having this intense development process that lasted years. You’re working on a smaller scale here, but you obviously did a ton of homework.

It took four years to get the film financed, so I had ample time to research. There was a tremendous amount of research. I think that authenticity for authenticity’s sake doesn’t really please me necessarily. But because witches don’t exist today, I felt it was essential to create an utterly believable 17th century world where witches really did exist so we could believe in them in the same way that someone in the early modern period would have believed in a witch. I was reading copious books, working with museums and historians. I was so prepared. I had done so much research and so many drawings. By the time we were actually crewed up, I did some field trips with the costume designer and the production designer to look at historical sights and this and that.

I had a really good understanding of what we were doing, so we could create a plan to do this on a tight budget. The clothing is all based on patterns from extant clothing, it’s all hand-stitched, hand-woven. We had tons of swatches of what the authentic cloth would be and we found the best equivalents if we couldn’t afford the real stuff. Everything that you see on the farm in camera is the correct materials, which often meant we had to use the period tools to make the stuff. We used power tools whenever we could, but if it had to look right and the only way to do it was with the period tools, that’s what we did.

Continue Reading The Witch Influences >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: