In contemporary America, where the street lights are always on and human connection (or at least its digital facsimile) can be found with the push of a button, it’s hard for us to grasp how isolated and terrifying life could be for colonial Americans. The nights were pitch black, the woods were vast and full of wild animals, and if something bad were to happen, help was miles and miles away. Combined with the Puritans’ belief in themselves as persecuted holy crusaders—not to mention a healthy dose of superstition—is it any wonder that the belief in witchcraft thrived in such an environment?
That terror of the unknown is palpable in the trailer for The Witch, Robert Eggers’ directorial debut subtitled “A New England Folktale.” The Witch won the Best Director award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd saw the film. “Eggers amps up the unholy menace from the first frames … it’s still bracing to see familiar genre tropes explored in the context of a studiously researched period piece,” he said. “The Witch plays like a horror-movie answer to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, presenting an alternate American history in which true evil exists and religious hysteria is the proper response to it.”
The Witch does not yet have a U.S. release date set, but will premiere sometime in 2016.