Living Deliciously: Robert Eggers' The VVitch
One of the small blessings of lockdown, has been the opportunity to watch even more films than usual. Supernatural horror has become more prominent in my viewing choices - there had always been affinity with the genre's outsiders but this time it is also a brief escape from reality. The VVitch, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance festival, had been on my list for a while.
The VVitch follows a family of 17th century English settlers who, banished from their New England colony over a religious dispute, set up a new home in an isolated clearing next to a dense forest. Tragedy begins when the baby vanishes while the adolescent daughter Thomasin (Anna Taylor-Joy) plays peek-a-boo with him. Somewhere in the forest, an elderly woman rubs herself with an ointment of bodily remains.
Secrets and paranoia suffocate the family. Thomasin increasingly receives accusations from both parents and siblings, over thefts and unholy activity, as unexplained misfortune strikes again - her verge of adulthood triggering subconscious fear and curiosity. Meanwhile, strange women and beasts from the forest are closing in. There is also the family's unassuming pet goat Black Phillip that the little twins whisper to.
The despair and claustrophobia in the household reflects on the surroundings - the daytime is a continuous washed-out grey. After terror and violence, both supernatural and human-inflicted, reach a climax there is an odd calmness in the black night. In the darkness, Thomasin is asked by Satan "Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?". The proposition speaks of a freedom that Thomasin had previously been denied. A heroine that does not just merely survive dark forces, but is also given liberating empowerment as she approaches other women - young and old - dancing naked wildly around a fire amongst the trees.