Witchy Wednesday: The Witch (2015)

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As we get closer to Halloween, your resident goth here, Trystan, is kicking off Witchy Wednesdays, a series of spooky costume movies I’ve watched recently. Because sometimes the good old-fashioned kind of horror is better than the real shit we see in the news every damn day. Gimmie some fake blood and things that go bump in the night over dumb white men with easy access to assault weapons or a dumbass starting nuclear war via Twitter any time. Ehem.

My first frightening frock flick is The Witch (2015), set in the 1630s at the height of the New England witch hunts. You may be familiar with the context from The Crucible (Arthur Miller’s play or the 1996 film version) or even TV’s Salem (2014-2017), but this film takes a darker turn. Playing on the themes of religious extremism, paranoia, and mass hysteria, The Witch keeps you wondering until the very end exactly what happened to this family of settlers in an isolated colony.

I can’t say more about the plot in a review without giving something crucial away, so let’s just look at the costumes, which are much more historically accurate than similar things set in this time and place. With the film’s laser focus on one family, it’s easier to get the clothing right, of course. But the clothes are so very right, down to little details that made me squee, right when I was getting creeped out. So, yay!

The Witch (2015)

Typical look for judgemental village elders.

The Witch (2015)

View of the family’s back shows piping on the father’s jacket and tabbed skirting on his and the two children’s jackets.

The Witch (2015)

More detailing on the father’s jacket, although he seems to have an aversion to wearing a hat.

Hand-done topstitching in evidence on Caleb’s little jacket.

The Witch (2015)

More hand topstitching can be seen on Thomasina’s cloak.

The Witch (2015)

The fit on all their clothes is amazing.

The Witch (2015)

This is the kirtle worn underneath her jacket. It laces up the front, plus the straps lace to the bodice — perfectly reasonable for the period and for a young girl.

The Witch (2015)

This is my favorite image! You can see the cap’s ties going around her head — 16th- and 17th-century caps had long ties that gathered a little bit at the nape of the neck and were tied up over the crown of the head to stay securely on. You rarely see this onscreen.

The Witch (2015)

Again with the cap ties — here you can see how the ties sit in front of a ridge which is created by her braided hair under the cap. Period hair and caps FTW!

The Witch (2015)

Yeah, there’s some blood. But note how her skirts have deep pleats in them because she’s a growing girl. Smart!

The Witch (2015)

The little twins look to be dressed like miniature adults — as they should be.

The Witch (2015)

Behind-the-scenes pic of mom shows an accurate pleated collar.

The Witch (2015)

The witchy woman in the woods is all about the boobs. All the better to seduce little boys, I guess.

The Witch (2015)

Behind-the-scenes, the witchy woman menaces the girl. Right there with ya, sister

 

 

Have you seen The Witch? Did it give you the chills?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

21 Responses

  1. picasso Manu

    Haven’t seen it, but the first picture is terrifying enough: Display of judgy old white men is scary!
    (and I’m sure I’ll be in trouble because the hat on the left makes me want to giggle. Yes, I know it’s period accurate… still giggling)
    And witches were often about boobs… And black kitties. Women of taste, obviously.

    Reply
  2. Merry Dickerson

    We watched The Witch just after finishing up American Horror Story Roanoke so, yeah, my skin is still crawling. In between sqwees of delight over the costuming, I was shifting in my seat over the spooky stuff. I’m not a horror film fan, I laughed through Texas Chain Saw, but The Witch was an exception. It definitely keeps the hair on your neck twitching plus it’s a feast for the eyes. The landscapes, the costuming, the storyline, the acting, all thumbs up, but especially the costuming. It actually inspired me to make my Scottish Games peasant wear by hand.

    Reply
  3. Sarah F

    I read that the production team also built most of the set using historical tools and techniques, and that the majority of the dialogue was taken from journals, trial records, and other documents from the period. A lot of care and consideration went into this film.
    The slow unraveling of the family was so well done that there were moments I almost forgot that there was indeed a witch in the woods.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yes, this! The family going back & forth under the strain, it was excellently played. I kept thinking ‘well that’s what happens when you’re a bunch of religious zealots, moving to a new country, with nothing, out in the middle of nowhere!’ It felt very realistic & also frickin’ creepy.

      Reply
      • Sarah F

        Exactly. It’s hard to remain a supportive, cohesive family unit when you’ve all been taught since birth that you are inherently sinful just by existing.
        Puritans.

        Reply
  4. Loren Dearborn

    It was amazed at how good the costuming was, it made the back-in-time creepiness of it all even creepier. Not an era I’d ever set my time machine for! :O

    Reply
  5. Kathryn MacLennan

    I loved all the archaic language throughout, which I read somewhere was taken from contemporary documents.

    Reply
  6. DT

    SPOILERS

    I just wish there were some bts shots of black Phillip’s human costume–I read an article discussing how they dressed him, but I can’t find any pictures anywhere! (Extra sad because Wahab Chaudry is definite MCM material.)

    Reply
  7. Brandy Loutherback

    I saw the VVItch , and I was genuinely impressed by the accuracy of this film! I especially liked the daughter”s gradually growing but still subtle bit of cleavage, and the little brother definitely noticing! The title font was especially clever because the W’s in the 17th Century looked like 2 V’s put together.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yeah, the brother staring at his sister – reinforcing their strict religious upbringing conflicting with natural curiosity, & sowing seeds of dissent among the family. Such a good point!

      Reply
  8. Barbara Shaurette

    Oh, I loved this movie so much. This is such a great example of how real care and research into the accuracy of costumes and set pieces can really draw you into the story.

    Reply
  9. lisaolga

    Historically the 1630s were not the height of new world witch hysteria. Salem happened in 1692, There was a similar but less noted outbreak in Connecticut circa 1647, But the costumes do fit the 1630s time period.

    Reply
  10. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I adore this movie! A much better version of the Village. M. Night Shamalyn can take a few lessons in how to build suspense and have a coherent narrative.
    Historically, in the 1630’s there was a large witch hunting hysteria in Scotland which would/could have spilled over to the colonies. At this time King James wrote Daemonologie, which explained how to find and hold a trial for suspected witches. Fun fact, during the 1590’s New Brunswick Witch Trials, the first woman accused was named Gillis Duncan. I bet we know where Diana Gabledon found the name.

    Reply
  11. Diana

    It’s outstanding. I watched it with a fellow first person interpreter/New England witchcraft historian, and we squeed throughout. Both of us are currently performing in an original immersive theatre piece set in 17th century New England, and the film persuaded the director to use accurate coif ties because I was so excited over them! For historical precision, however, I would like to note that the peak of witchcraft persecution in Old England is 1590-1600, and in New England it’s technically the 1660s though there were nasty episodes earlier and, most famously, later. Anyway, the film’s a gem, and does a superb job of depicting the contemporary belief system in an authentic and entertainingly horrific way.

    Reply
  12. Ayla

    I luuurve the costumes in this movie! Not generally a fan of 1600s fashion, but I think this film promptly changed my mind.

    Reply
  13. Sue

    This is one of my absolute favourite horror movies to come out in the past decade or so. The way it’s presented, the acting, atmosphere, and especially the accurate details on the costuming made me just fall in love with it. The writer/director spent several years researching the time period and all the superstitions that the people of the time had so the quality of the final product isn’t too surprising. Glad you ladies dig it, too!

    Reply

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