A family is banished from their village, forced out into the wilderness, building a farm just this side of a dense, and seemingly endless forest. For The Witch, location is key. Robert Eggers’ directorial debut is a masterclass in mood and atmosphere. The attention to period detail, its cold visual style, and even the titular villain are all merely window dressing for this folktale of puritanical paranoia – after the family’s child disappears a series of tragic events leads William (Ralph Ineson) and Katherine (Kate Dickie) to suspect their daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy, in a stunning performance) of witchcraft. It’s as if this overdose on ritualistic religion, set in a time where God and Satan felt much closer to home, much more to praise or blame for life’s little happenstances, twists the knife even more, the paranoia festering further. Many members of the family, especially the patriarchal William, are so obsessed with the rituals of religion (prayers, acts, etc) they seem to forget their faith, and thus Sin creeps in. This is the core of Eggers’ film – The Witch is a chilling, moody drama about a family’s destruction, not a horror film. By all means quite deserving of the praise it is receiving: it is superbly crafted – the acting, from children and adults alike, is excellent, the music unsettling, the moments of true horror terrifying. The Witch is also occasionally a bit of a snoozefest, despite how much I respect it.