My Top 20 Scares of 2020: #11

My #11 film of 2020 is one you may be surprised to see on the list at all, since I recently wrote a critique of its gender politics. It would be more accurate, perhaps, to say I was critiquing the gender politics of the people who insist on calling it a feminist film (leading me to believe many people do not know the definition of the word “feminist”).

Anyway, a movie can be good without being feminist, as attested by numerous horror movies over the years, including like half of my top 20. (Although look forward to 2021, folks, because I’m about to start watching more intentionally in an effort to Change The Ratio!)

My #11 favorite scare of 2020 is…

#11. THE VVITCH (2015)

(c) THE VVITCH 2015.

I think the reason I am so hung up on the feminism-or-not of THE VVITCH (2015, directed and written by Robert Eggers) is actually because it’s a really good movie. It’s a meticulously accurate creepy environmental period piece that uses historical ideas of witches as its monster. When you think of the witches as monsters, rather than women (this is definitely how the movie treats them), it’s clear they’re utilized sparingly to maximum effect. They have just the right amount of screen time to give the dual impression of glamour and repugnance without over-exposure making them less scary than they were at first.

The whole world of the film feels rife with danger and despair: starvation is just as real as a witch’s curse; the goats could be cute or maybe even funny but instead they’re terrifying. The world is perfectly crafted and the performers seems to fully inhabit it. It’s unsurprising that protagonist Thomasin, played by now-famous Anya Taylor-Joy, is a great young actor; it’s a delightful surprise to discover that even 14-year old Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) and the ten-year-old twins (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson) are superbly in it.

If you like a little sad with your scares and you’re also into period films, this one’s for you.

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 3/5
  • How memorable was it? 5/5
    • I literally watched this movie months ago and seethed about the gender stuff in it for so long I ended up watching it again just to prove to myself I’m Right About Things.
  • Was it a Quality film? 3.5/5
    • Points for being gorgeous and also period accurate.
  • How about those women? 2.5/5
    • Here is how THE VVITCH scores on each of the gender tests:
      • Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass
      • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass
      • Willis Test: Fail
      • Ko Test: Fail
      • Roxane Gay Test: Fail because it’s completely straight/white/etc. But I’m giving it partial credit for the purposes of the scoring system because there are several complex woman characters in the film and they relate to both money and love in plausible, human ways.
      • Carie-Burns Test: Fail
  • Total points: 14/20

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Dramaturg. I like coffee and Whisky and dogs and talking in person.

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