The Witch (stylized as The VVitch, subtitled A New-England Folktale) is a 2015 supernatural horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers, in his directorial debut. The plot follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm.
A co-production of the United States and Canada, the film was released at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2015, and was distributed in a wide release by A24 on February 19, 2016. It received positive reviews and grossed over $39 million over a $1 million budget.
In 17th century New England, a man named William is banished from a Puritan plantation alongside his family–his wife Katherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, and fraternal twins Mercy and Jonas. In their state of exile, the family builds a farm by the edge of a large, secluded forest far from the Puritan settlement. Katherine soon gives birth to her fifth child, Samuel. While being closely watched by Thomasin, Samuel mysteriously vanishes from her presence. It is then revealed that Samuel was kidnapped by a witch living in the woods, who kills him and uses his blood and fat to make a topical ointment for her body.
Katherine, devastated by Samuel’s disappearance, spends her days crying and praying. William takes Caleb hunting in the forest, where Caleb confronts his father about his unbaptized fate. William, in turn, confides to his son that he traded Katherine’s prized silver cup for hunting supplies. On the farm, the twins play with the family’s black goat, Black Phillip, whom they claim speaks to them. That night, Katherine blames Thomasin for the disappearance of her silver cup while also implying she was responsible for Samuel going missing. As the children retire to bed, they overhear their parents discussing sending Thomasin away to serve another family.
The next morning, Caleb and Thomasin sneak away to go hunting in the forest. Their dog gives chase to a hare and Caleb follows, leaving Thomasin astride the horse, which throws her and knocks her unconscious. Caleb, now lost in the woods, finds the disemboweled corpse of his dog. Wandering further into the woods, he is lured into a hovel by the witch disguised as a young woman. Thomasin awakens and, guided by her father’s calls, finds her way home. As Katherine confronts Thomasin about going into the woods, William reluctantly admits that he sold her silver cup.
That night, Caleb returns to the farm naked and delirious from an unknown illness. Katherine suggests her son’s mysterious ailment is due to witchcraft and prays over Caleb. The next day, Caleb suffers a violent seizure and passionately proclaims his love for Christ before dying peacefully. In the aftermath of Caleb’s death, the twins accuse Thomasin of witchcraft, to which she counters their accusations by revealing the twins’ ability to converse with Black Phillip. Enraged at their behavior, William boards up Thomasin and the twins inside the stable with the goats.