I want to help out many of you right off the bat. If the term "horror film," brings up visions of Jason, Freddy, and other things that go bump in the night, or if you need constant killing, explosions, chasing, or "action," let's say; then I would say just completely look a different direction if considering this film. This is NOT THAT FILM. It would be like telling someone who thinks of comedy as being Dumb and Dumber, and giving them Shakespeare and telling them, “no really, it’s a comedy.”
If you like more psychological horror, and something a bit deeper, and darker, something more unsettling, or if you are open to broadening that idea of what a horror film is, then this may be the film for you.
The film essentially makes no apologies about being a folk tale. It is a dark and dreary folk tale no doubt, but this film will ask a bit more of your attention. The dialogue is based on the actual folk tales the film used to make the story and therefore is VERY difficult to follow, even though they are speaking English! I would dare say watch the film once as is, then a second time with the subtitles on.
The film touches on the somewhat archaic beliefs and religious views of the times, and how a family ties in their lives completely to said beliefs. So if crops don’t grow, or you get sick etc. it is because you are failing in your faith essentially. Throw in a nasty witch that resides off in the darkness of the woods and this makes for some interesting storytelling to say the least.
The film is graphic, and will be very, VERY unsettling for some. So take note of that, this is an adult film by all means.
The entire film is dark, cloudy, and “grey,” if you will, and one of the most atmospheric films I have ever watched. The acting is top notch in every way, and spectacularly nuanced. There is so much more to the story if you can really, really pay attention and listen to what they are saying.
I would say if you found films such as Rosemary’s Baby, or The Shining, to be up your alley, then by all means give this film a go. It is much more of a still, creeping, evil that pays off in spades.
Again, this film is not for everyone, but I can’t help thinking that over the years this film will only grow in its appreciation and will be looked back on as something totally different for the times.
In many ways the film is much scarier than most of the horror that comes out because this film is dead serious. There are no silly one liners or inside jokes. This is a film about evil, and not just the evil that the witch brings with her, but the religious as well.