Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Witch' Mines Horror from Centuries-Old New England Puritan Angst

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Witch' Mines Horror from Centuries-Old New England Puritan Angst

Article excerpt

'The Witch' mines horror from Puritan angst

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TORONTO - Film director and horror fan Robert Eggers was looking for a fresh take on the witch myth. So he sought inspiration in archaic and bygone worlds.

The result is his unsettling supernatural tale "The Witch," set in 1630 New England and told entirely in Jacobean English.

"In some ways it's so unoriginal, like there's nothing original about it," Eggers chuckles during an interview at last September's Toronto International Film Festival, where he screened his debut feature.

"But I'm interested in stuff that other people aren't as interested in. And my influences are older and I just like digging further back into the past."

Eggers admits he spent five years trying to convince people to shoot his unusual vision, which centres on an ultra-devout Puritan family banished by their community to a desolate woodland area.

Forced to rebuild their homestead on rugged land at the edge of a dark forest, they soon suffer a series of calamities that the pious parents determine must be the work of Satan.

From there, it doesn't take much for them to blame their eldest daughter for attracting the scourges, but it becomes increasingly clear that something far more dangerous is lingering in the nearby woods.

Eggers wanted to "make something that was kind of horrific, or at least approaching horrific, which is different than a horror movie."

"Maybe this colonial horror movie is just like an artisanal hipster horror movie or something," says the bearded Brooklynite, making himself chuckle again with his impromptu tagline.

"Maybe it's riding on that. I don't know. But certainly my intention was to go to the archetypes. …

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