The Witch, or The V V itch as the opening title reads, starts with a family on trial in front of their fellow plantation workers. They are banished from their home for incorrectly preaching God’s word. Headstrong, the father moves his family away and starts farming to survive on their own. They seem to be successful until something goes wrong. The infant goes missing and the family is wrecked with grief when they are unable to explain their loss. They can’t reconcile their misfortune with their religious beliefs and the loss creates cracks in the foundation of their lives.
The strength and originality of the film comes from its focus on relationships and beliefs rather than the supernatural. Living in the 1600s in a puritan, extremely orthodox family, the characters have deeply held beliefs about God, Original Sin, and the Devil. To them, Witches are as real as droughts and famine so when bad things start happening, they look for someone, or something, to blame. The Witch uses this finger pointing to create an atmosphere of distrust. Much like the horror classic The Thing, the question isn’t “who’s going to die next?” but rather “who will they believe?”. This adds a moral complexity to the storyline that elevates it well above other similar movies.