— by Jeff Schultz
You gotta be kidding. This is the movie Stephen King says “scared the hell out of me” ? This is the movie that won Best Director at Sundance? This is the movie with an RT fresh-rated 88 %? I don’t get it, just like I didn’t get about half the dialogue since it’s spoken, softly and quickly, in archaic language in half-English accents, even as you’re straining to see what’s going on because of the (deliberately, and yes, quite beautifully) underlit and constant gloam and gloom. The movie’s deadly seriousness makes for a dirge-like 90 minutes of watching the most miserable family in the history of 17th century New England, with an unsatisfying payoff involving a hokey coven and witches on wires. (Those “flown” witches, by the way, are pretty much the only effect in the movie — it’s completely psychological.) I’ve seen at least one blogger suggest this is a feminist parable, and in fact there is a blood motif that seems linked to… well, as Donald Trump would put it, “blood coming out of [their] whatever”. Religious fervor is also in the forefront, with a father-son catechism, constant prayers, and much jerkin-rending over faith lost. So if you’re expecting scares, either cheap or earned, you’ll be disappointed.