Escaping the Darkness, by Tyler Straessle

26 Feb


Many Christians will not see The Witch. Of the Christians who do see it, I expect that many will not enjoy it. It is an unsettling film. It is an intense film. It is hard to find any sort of redemptive message buried deep within its murky darkness, but I’ve managed to come away with a lesson in faith.

The Witch begins with a devoutly religious family leaving their plantation due to a disagreement of beliefs between them and their community. Patriarch William and his wife Katherine decide to start a new life with their five young children, completely isolated and free to practice their version of the faith without the burden of fellow Christians holding them accountable. They settle on the outskirts of an eerie stretch of woods, and it almost feels like the beginnings of a cult.

The youngest child, Samuel, vanishes while under the care of the eldest daughter, Thomasin, and from there we get our first terrifying glance at The Witch. Soon after, eldest son Caleb comes down with a mysterious illness. The series of unfortunate events prompts the exasperated parents to suspect that their daughter, present with both siblings during their times of trouble, is a practicing witch.

In a particularly powerful scene, a nearly dead Caleb appears to be possessed, first by a demonic spirit, and then by a joyful, Godly spirit, moments before his death. Caleb’s passing further rocks the already unstable family, and the film plunges deeper and deeper into darkness, leaving a once closely bonded family pitted completely against one another.

Christianity is prominently featured in this film and is portrayed as a dry, legalistic chore that is clung to joylessly, and seemingly without any sort of personal relationship with Jesus. The family’s dinnertime prayer indicates that they absolutely despise their lives, and wish the Lord to come ASAP. Despite their “strong devotion to the Lord,” however, evil seems to prevail over good.

A relationship with the Lord is meant to exude love, joy, and peace. Those elements are absent in this family’s religion, which leads me to conclude that they may have had a dead or weak faith, which I believe Satan used as an opportunity to creep further into each individual’s life. And boy did he do some damage.

As stated before, many Christians will not enjoy this film. The darkness does not eventually collapse under the good. But if you take a closer look, maybe good wasn’t really even present in the first place. If their faith was true, however, maybe in the end God finally gave them what they had desired all along: a final reprieve from the darkness and an entrance into a joyful resting place right alongside young Caleb.

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