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They could have been safe. They could have lived long, sheltered lives together as a family. They could have survived easily within the confines of the village, but father had to succumb to his pride, and claim himself as the most devoted Christian amongst his peers, even going as far as to insult the lawmakers in town and question their religiosity. Based on his conceit, and his refusal to offer up an apology, father, mother, and the children are banished to the outskirts of the plantation, where they are left to fend for themselves against the witch of the wood and her evil magics.
At first, it seems that all is well and their faith has offered a coat of protection which shields them from wrong. However, when the youngest of their clan, their baby Sam, goes missing, and their crops wither and die, the family members grow paranoid and rabid, pointing fingers at whomever seems most suited to shoulder the blame — more often than not the accused is the oldest sister Thomasin. Whether or not Thomasin actually is at fault is of little importance, for the family will fall apart long before they discover the truth behind their bad luck if they continue down this dreary path of backstabbing and distrust. They pray to the sky, fear the trees, and bleed their bodies of illness, but all of their superstitions and hopefulness for a fresh start in the new world can’t save them from the corruption of the doubt in their hearts, and the black magic that seeps in through the cracks of their damned souls.
From literary works, to drawings, to cinema, depictions of witchcraft have always carried with them a subtext of some sort. Whether it be a comparison between the Salem Witch Trials of the 1700s and the witch hunt in the 1950s by blacklisting enthusiast Senator McCarthy, the idea of conservative religious types labeling people they don’t understand as “witches”, or just the notion of a girl developing her powers as she matures from a young lady into a grown woman, the use of witches in pop culture often goes hand in hand with a deeper meaning. However, where The Witch stands apart from its predecessors is its portrayal of magic as a parallel for the struggles that the British felt when they first arrived in the States, and the paranoia that personified as a result of their failed attempts to survive on American soil.
Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie give spellbinding performances as the devout couple so entrenched in their religion that they are willing to turn on their own children if they feel their lord demands it. Anya Taylor-Joy is spectacular as the sweet, innocent child who grows tainted when the harshness of colonial times drives her family mad, and the evils of the wood slither out and persuade her parents to abandon all reason and treat her like a heathen. As her purity is defiled, the light in her eyes grows wicked and dangerously playful, lending to the thought that perhaps all her family’s accusations towards her might hold some legitimacy. Watching these three members interact is a real treat, as each argument keeps the viewer guessing as to which party is in the right, and which is slowly losing their grip on reality.
However, the real surprise in this film is newcomer Harvey Scrimshaw, who plays Thomasin’s little brother Caleb. Caught between craving the love and approval of his parents, and his sympathy for his ostracized sister, Scrimshaw delivers a relatable, conflicted persona as the boy who wants to defend his sibling, but doesn’t dare disobey his elders. Scrimshaw executes this attitude with ease, but his most impressive moment comes after he falls ill of an unknown disease, and fights for his life on a sweat-soaked cot under the watchful eyes of his loved ones. As he shrieks and howls and begs to be put out of his misery, Scrimshaw displays the power and discipline of an actor well beyond his years. It will be exciting to follow what promises to be a fulfilling career for this talented young man.
From the youngest toddler to the oldest Puritan, each member of the cast delivers their lines with the kind of enthusiasm that demands undivided attention. Their success is due in large part to a beautifully crafted script by director Eggers, who smartly pulls much of his dialogue from real diaries and manuscripts of the time period that he portrays. By using written words found from the actual days of pilgrimage, Eggers offers up an authenticity that keeps his film grounded in grueling reality, even when the magic seeks to uproot and whisk the story away into a fantasy land. Because of this, the film itself carries the grit of a historical drama, as the actors echo out real dialogue spoken by real settlers, as opposed to words written by someone who’s simply guessing how people of this time period might have spoken.
The relentless, suffocating tension that permeates each scene is present from the moment the movie starts, until the end credits roll. The haunting cinematography by Jarin Blaschke, the sinfully unsettling score by Mark Korven, and the raw, committed performances of the cast combine to make a stunning directorial debut for Robert Eggers, that in the end, leaves the audience as anxious and gut wrenched as the characters onscreen. Above all else, Eggers made a movie that inherently touches its viewers, leaving an impact as sweltering as the coaxing influences of ancient hypnotizing magics. An excellent use of religion as a fear tactic, The Witch plays on the terrors of the time period as much as it does the witchcraft, creating a scary foreign world for naive newcomers who have grown accustomed to England’s safer shores, and punishing those who rely on their faith as a way of explaining that which they do not know. Off to a triumphant start, director Eggers has eerily crafted what is easily one of the best horror movies to come out in the past ten years, and possibly one of the greatest witch stories of all time.
IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE SEASON DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU WANT SPOILERS!!! THIS IS YOUR WARNING!!!
TVLine spoke with executive producer Julie Plec about how the premiere’s twists will shape the rest of the season
But first, a quick recap: Damon, Bonnie and Alaric returned from their European bender — where Damon nearly let Bonnie die in order to get Elena back — to find that their home is now under the control of Lily and her “family” of Heretics. Damon chose a direct approach to the problem, ripping out beloved Heretic Malcolm’s heart, while Alaric chose to celebrate his return by visiting Jo… at the morgue.
Meanwhile, Caroline and Stefan’s attempt to eliminate the Heretics (did somebody order a bomb?) totally backfired, as Lily’s “children” not only survived the blast, but also ate most of Matt’s fellow police academy graduates. And although Caroline came clean to Stefan about how “happy” he makes her, that happiness was tragically short-lived; Enzo chose to side with Lily, kidnapping Ms. Forbes in the process.
Lastly, a three-year flash-forward revealed that Damon — who apparently decides to hibernate in Brooklyn until Elena wakes up — and Stefan are being hunted by a mysterious crossbow-wielding lunatic. Must be Thursday!
Below, Plec explains the premiere’s biggest twists (WTF, Enzo?!) and teases what the rest of Season 7 holds:
TVLINE | Is the plan to catch up to the three-year jump by the end of the season?
Yes, that’s the plan — probably about three-quarters of the way through the season, actually.
TVLINE | So you must have everything pretty well mapped out.
Oh, yes. The thing about flash-forwards is that you do your best to map everything out at the beginning, because if you screw up, you’re stuck with it forever. We laid out the broad strokes of what we wanted to do and what little surprises we wanted to drop along the way. But we’ve also made some new discoveries in doing that; characters who perhaps weren’t going to live to see three years from now are now alive in their own flash-forwards. [Laughs] It’s good for our actors to know they might survive the time jump.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about that woman coming after Damon and Stefan with the crossbow. Is she someone we know? Someone we’re going to meet?
That’s Stephen Amell in drag. [Laughs] I can’t say, but a lot of people have told me their theories and there have been a couple doozies. I think it’s more fun to keep people guessing.
TVLINE | I loved hearing Caroline tell Stefan that he makes her happy. How close are we to getting a label on that relationship?
This year’s going to be a very peculiar year for their relationship. They’re definitely committed to trying to make it work, and if any two people can achieve what they set out to do, I think it’s them. But there are going to be a lot of curveballs thrown their way over the first part of the season that they’re going to have to wrap their heads around and circumvent in order to remain committed and happy.
TVLINE | So it’s mostly external forces getting in the way for them?
Yeah, some pretty bananas external forces, truth be told. Next week, we get the first glimpse of one of them.
TVLINE | Speaking of Caroline, Enzo kidnapping her seems to imply he’s made his choice. Is he officially a bad guy?
I don’t know if he’s officially a bad guy; he’s someone who’s always been on the fringe, looking for a tribe. He’s chosen Lily and her tribe because she’s the one person who’s been consistently warm and caring towards him. As the person who sired him, he feels this loyalty to her that he’s having a hard time shaking.
TVLINE | So we might see him playing both sides for a bit?
He’s definitely made his allegiance clear, but ultimately, he’s going to have to ask himself, “Is my allegiance to this crazy group of people, or is it to Lily? And if it is to Lily, why?” He’ll be faced with some interesting questions about why he cares so much.
TVLINE | The Heretics are clearly pissed about Malcolm. Who should we be most concerned about in terms of them seeking revenge?
I think you need to be a little bit worried about everyone. The question is: Now that Damon has acted out, what will Lily do to punish him? Will she punish him directly? As we’ve seen, Enzo made a move on her behalf to punish Caroline, so I think everybody’s going to have to watch their back as we head into next week.
TVLINE | Elena’s presence was definitely felt in the premiere. As the season goes on, will that let up, or will she always be there in spirit?
She’s always going to be present, emotionally and spiritually, but we won’t spend every episode going down that path about how much Damon misses her, or how different the world is without her. But she will be very much a part of the narrative, the existence of her, specifically as it relates to Damon’s journey and what he has to do to survive the next 22,000 days.
TVLINE | That scene with Alaric at the morgue was chilling. Is he headed to a dark place?
It’s headed to a place that’s equal parts dark and weird and sad and beautiful and hopeful and tragic. [Laughs] Really, any good Vampire Diaries adjective you can throw into the mix applies here.
TVLINE | Lastly, when Candice King first announced her pregnancy, a lot of fans jumped to the conclusion of a Stefan/Caroline baby. Was that ever a thought for you?
We had so many thoughts that were kind of hilarious, the first being: How are we going to create good story if Caroline never comes out from behind her enormous handbag? Or, can we get her an Olivia Pope coat? But I think the decision that we made about how to address and/or not address the pregnancy is very interesting. The fans will be intrigued to see how we either disguise it or embrace it, and that’s really all I can say.
“iZombie” has tapped Eddie Jemison to play a new villain in the sophomore run of the CW series.
Jemison — best known for his role as Livingston Dell in the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy — will recur as Mr. Boss, Seattle’s very own crime lord, Entertainment Weekly reported.
“We’re really playing him as the man who runs Seattle,” series executive producer Rob Thomas said of Mr. Boss. “It’s a very different flavor from Blaine and Vaughn Du Clark. With David Anders (Blaine) and Steven Weber (Vaughn), we’ve got such big scenery-chewing, delightfully big bad guys. With Mr. Boss, we wanted to play the mild-mannered, broodily efficient kind of guy.”
“The idea with the Mr. Boss character is essentially that he was the accountant for the mob, and, through his own shrewdness and willingness to go more violent than anyone else would, has landed as the man in Seattle,” Thomas explained. “You would think with that name, it would be a loud, showy character, but he plays an affable, and yet incredibly dangerous villain.”
While it remains to be seen how Mr. Boss will exactly fit into the world of “iZombie,” Thomas suggested in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Peyton’s (Aly Michalka) season 2 storyline seems to be connected with the new villain.
“Most of what Peyton did in season 1 was bounce off the other characters. In season 2, she is a bit more ingrained in the mythology,” Thomas told THR. “She has stories that are centered on her job and digging into Seattle’s criminal hierarchy.”
Thomas added, “We have some fun stuff for her planned. She’s probably in about half the episodes again in season two, so about the same as last year, but she has meatier stories this time.”
Daniel Gillies dishes to TV Line about Hayley & Elijah in Season 3:
As you (should) know, Hayley is still cursed to remain a werewolf outside of a full moon, meaning she has but one night per cycle to see her baby. As you’ll discover in tonights season opener, Elijah is determined to make those rare occasions as enjoyable as possible, though their get-togethers don’t allow much time for “the talk.”
“I think it’s kind of masterful for the writers to have Elijah and Hayley not discuss their relationship,” Gillies tells TVLine. “There’s something kind of Dickensian about the whole thing; there’s sort of a parlor room romance that comes along with the restraint. It’s what makes them interesting, but I do think they’re sort of doomed to love each other.”
And with wolf hunters running rampant throughout the bayou, it’s also up to Elijah to keep Hayley safe, a challenge Gillies’ character accepts without hesitation.
“He’ll do what he has to do, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily dark about it,” he says when asked whether Elijah will go to a dark place to protect Hayley. “One thing I admire about Elijah is that, if nothing else, he’s economical. He sees occasional violence as a necessary evil, or even just another day at the office. And when it comes to the reunification of his family, I don’t think any measure is too dark. By human standards, he’ll certainly do some malevolent-looking things, but by 1,000-year-old vampire standards, it’ll be just like a trip to Starbucks for tea.”
Speaking of darkness, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a Klaus/Elijah reconciliation anytime soon, as both Hayley and Elijah blame Klaus for Hope’s mother’s condition — and rightfully so.
Concludes Gillies, “This show is really about these two brothers attempting to fight the inevitable, which is that they’re always going to be driving one another away.”