A family of Calvinist pilgrims is exiled from their plantation and builds a farm in the wilderness, while evil forces in the forest slowly menace them. This atmospheric movie takes you to another world, one where sin is real and the soul is in constant peril. 4.5/5 (and I might bump it up to 5/5 by the end of the year). The best new horror film I've seen in some time.
I'm sure I could research this myself, but in the spirit of provoking discussion (!!), is this a period piece then? Does it play with the cultural contrasts between film's set period and modern culture as a way to push the horrific atmosphere?
I tend to like that sort of thing, but it does often put off audiences that
(a) ONLY measure a film's cultural setting from their own contemporary lens
(b) ONLY measure a film against contemporary film metrics.
*This movie has been heavily hyped as a great horror film; there has been some blowback by genre fans who think it's closer to drama than horror. It's very much in the style of a classic like ROSEMARY'S BABY---slow burn, psychological, but the evil is very real. It's unfortunate that some horror fans complain the genre never does anything new, then complain about a film that tries a different approach because it's "slow" and not "scary" (by which they really mean "gory"). This is why horror is so often regarded as a lesser genre aimed at unsophisticated teenagers with short attention spans. Jason Coffman wrote a nice article about this phenomenon: https://medium.com/cinenation-show/this-is-why-we-can-t-have-nice-things-the-witch-and-horror-fandom-s-gatekeepers-b2c0bb0d8f9a#.2b3gobtr9.
Thanks for the link; will read that article in a few minutes. Couple of comments first though...
(1) I've been saying this same things for years. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is an excellent example. Someone TRIED to do something a little different, and on a small budget, too. Out come the complainers. There are many examples of this.
It really, REALLY cheeses me off when people complain/degrade a movie's 'quality' on the basis of budget or visual effect (or any single parameter, really, but those two are the biggies). There is far more to a "good film" than how much money is spent making it "look good," and while I get irritated at the reduction, I also find it rather sad. So many younger viewers are eliminating many really good films for what amounts to superficial reasons.
(2) Stephen King delved into this phenomenon a bit in his book Danse Macabre
at least in regard to visual effects. His point went something like this:
(a) Film makers 'back in the day' did not have access to truly photorealistic visual effects. The fx were essentially cartoonish, meant to convey a 'mood' or a 'feel' about a monster or whatever.
(b) Audiences did not care about that 'lapse' because no one did it in films, so no one watching a film expected 'realistic' visuals.
Here's the important point: As a result of this 'expectation,' those audiences were more FOCUSED on mood, atmosphere, story, characterization, pacing, etc. as storytelling components.
(c) Modern audiences have been 'conditioned' to expect photorealism, especially in horror films. Blood, gore, 'believable' monster constructions, etc. have led younger viewers to expect that as a DEFINING element on "good horror."
(d) As a result, modern audiences that view older horror movies tend to "notice" this cartoon aspects of the visuals, and FOCUS on that "shortcoming" as a great detractor from the quality of the film, thus tending to miss all the wonderful things older classics got right and did VERY well (for then and for now).
King of course said it much better than I could, and gave some interesting examples.
Basically, the irritating thing is how many times have we read a review or forum comment that goes something like "It looked cheap" like that was THE SOLE defining characteristic that HAS to be present for a film to be declared "good" or at least "enjoyable" or "entertaining."
In summary, it rankles me that modern horror has come to be 'defined' by visual effects, but I find it very sad, too. I've always preferred atmospheric horror, myself, and I suspect that might be partly due to growing up on the old classics which were very definitively story driven.