10 best horror films to watch on Netflix right now

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2. The Witch

In the early 1600s, a Puritan family is banished from their community and set up an isolated homestead on the edge of the forest, where they believe they can practice their beliefs in peace. But when a baby goes missing on the edge of the forest, the family begins to suspect that there is something waiting to prey on them beyond the edge of the trees.

What makes this such a masterful piece of horror is the way the supernatural elements play off of the character dynamics, all set to a low simmer by the religious fervor which drove them into exile in the first place. It is frequently unclear where the supernatural ends and the paranoia begins. In a new and unfamiliar world surrounded by dangers both real and spiritual, the characters see the devil in every shadow. The question of whether or not they’re correct is one that takes the entire movie to answer.

The claustrophobia builds both in the setting, and between the characters themselves. In their exile, the characters are essentially trapped together, fighting off starvation and the promise of a cold winter while also trying to fight off the presence of evil. The worse things get, the more the wilderness around them takes on the aspect of being not only inhospitable but actively evil. The witch’s presence seems to suffuse the entirety of the forest, until everything around them seems to be a threat.

The Takeaway

Quietly sinister and then sharply horrifying, The Witch is a bleak, slow-building masterpiece with atmosphere you could cut with a knife.