A trailer and poster have dropped for one of my most anticipated upcoming horror movies, Robert Eggers' The Witch.
The period film (set in 17th century New England) is reportedly a beautifully crafted, naturalistic and terrifying portrayal of a family of puritanical settlers who fall afoul of an evil crone who lives in the nearby woods. First-timer Eggers took home Best Director for it at Sundance this year, where the film was met with seemingly universal acclaim.
Eggers has a background in production/costume design and art direction, and apparently his eye for visual detail is all over this movie. As for The Witch's historical accuracy, Eggers wanted to research the period and folklore thoroughly, and ended up doing so for an astounding four years. In his own words:
“The kind of research I did here was wild and obsessive, almost disgusting. I have always been into folktales and fairy tales and New England’s past, so with this film I wanted to create an archetypal New England horror story. Something that would feel like an inherited nightmare of a Puritan family.”
The word is that every aspect of the production, from the fabric used for costumes to the construction of the sets (all built on a remote rural location), is meticulously detailed and authentic. I'm talking right down to hand-forged wrought-iron nails and real reed-thatched roofs.
The obsessive realism doesn't end there. No makeup was used on the actors, and all the dialogue is spoken in historically accurate 17th century English. Composer Mark Korven used a number of archaic instruments in the score, lending a further air of spooky, New England atmosphere to proceedings.
The shoot, which was apparently cold, gloomy and arduous, took place entirely on location in Northern Ontario, Canada, using only natural light and candlelight for interior shots (taking a leaf out of the Scott/Kubrick book of period realism).
As to the horror aspects of the movie, expect earthy, visceral, Satanic occultism.