The Clash of Fundamentalisms in ‘The Witch’

There’s a lot at stake in the final scene of The Witch, the terrifying feature film debut from writer/director Robert Eggers, and it’s not as unambiguous as it may seem. As Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) descends into the woods, ostensibly joining the coven which has been terrorizing her family, Eggers appears to validate the concerns voiced throughout the film: Witches are real, and they can entice former Christians to join them. But Thomasin very well may just have an active imagination, one fueled by her anger towards the patriarchal Christianity her father attempts to impose on her, and no one other than Black Phillip is around to confirm the reality of Thomasin’s experience. Either way, the ending depicts Thomasin’s clear rejection of one system in favor of another, and it therefore captures the true conflict at the movie’s core.

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