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YMMV / The VVitch

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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: You hate the twins for all the trouble they bring on Thomasin, but it's still horrifying to see them trapped with the witch and screaming for help. Their fate is never confirmed.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The Downer Ending of the film is actually an upbeat ending for Thomasin. As a young woman living in the fairly oppressive and sexist 1630s Puritan society, her prospects in life don't go much beyond "being sold off to another family to become a housewife and mother". On top of that, she's already clearly The Un-Favourite of her own family. By joining up with the coven, she's now free of that and implicitly allowed to "live deliciously". Notably, Anya Taylor-Joy herself views the ending this way, although many fans have disagreed (see Misaimed Fandom below).
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • It's entirely possible that Thomasin was the "witch" all along, and the ending was just her final descent into madness. Considering the circumstances behind the major deaths in the movie, Thomasin easily could have been responsible for all of them. Not only was she the only person with Samuel when he disappeared, she was also boarded in the stable with the goats and the twins when the former were slaughtered and the latter vanished. Not to mention that Caleb's apparent infatuation with his sister has some clear parallels with his later seduction by the witch. With that in mind, her teasing Mercy comes off like a genuine glimpse at her true insanity. However, this was Jossed when Eggers noted that, although the film is designed to invoke multiple different interpretations of the characters and events, he more or less shot the idea of Thomasin being the witch from the beginning down, saying, "Once upon a time there was a story of a witch... and that’s not a very interesting story."
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    • William can be interpreted in any number of ways, particularly since we learn almost nothing about the religious disagreement that led to him being expelled from the plantation. Eggers seems to intentionally want to keep him ambiguous. Either he's a genuinely deranged fundamentalist who brings his own family to collapse because of his warped beliefs, or he's just an idealistic Christian and a well-meaning father who gets driven off the edge by stressful events beyond his control — or both. Ralph Ineson sees him more as the latter - who wants to provide a prosperous future for his family to prove he can.
    • Kate Dickie feels that Katherine isn't just resentful of the fact that Thomasin is the one who lost Samuel; she's also jealous of her daughter approaching womanhood and child bearing age - and she's in fact more upset because Samuel was her last baby and she can't replace him.
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    • Mercy and Jonas — somewhat bratty but still innocent children who are just playing and having fun with their family's goat? Children who were either tricked or convinced to be agents for Satan? Or were they witches from the start?
    • At the end, when told to sign the book, Thomasin says she can't write her name. Does she mean that she's so scared that she can't bring herself to do it, or does she simply mean that she's illiterate and never learned how? The Spanish dubs pointed to the latter, as the ambiguity between the two verbal actions doesn't exist in that language.
  • Better on DVD: With the period-accurate dialogue, this is one movie that gets much easier to follow with subtitles on, even if you don't normally need them.
  • Critical Dissonance: The film was critically-acclaimed upon release, but it was met with more of a split reception amongst general audiences, possibly due to Misaimed Marketing that publicized the film as a conventional horror flick more than a psychological period piece.
  • Delusion Conclusion: One theory claims that the Witch was just a hallucination brought about by eating the fungus-contaminated crops, especially since ergot poisoning is now a plausible explanation for the paranoia that caused the Salem Witch Trials. (See below for Egger's take on this)
  • Death of the Author: Eggers invoked this for himself when discussing the film: his intention was that all the supernatural events depicted in the film were to be taken at face value, but said that isn't the only way an audience member can interpret them; he specifically noted how the blight that destroyed the family's crops was ergot (a hallucinatory fungus that is now believed to have contributed to the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials).
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • A lot of fans who interpret the ending positively apply this to Black Philip. He's literally the devil who ensures Thomasin's entire family dies, and arguably makes her sign away her soul to become beholden to him. Some fans interpret him as a liberator who saves Thomasin from the oppressive Puritan environment. A lot of this is down to his voice.
    • Naturally the witch who seduces Caleb is bound to get this, with many YouTube comments joking that they wish she'd do the same to them. Caleb is twelve and being taken advantage of by a predator, who then makes him walk all the way home naked in the rain. And while we do see multiple dark-haired witches dancing by the fire at the end, there's a possibility the Hot Witch wasn't her true form.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Black Phillip, the family's goat, to the point where Entertainment Weekly cut together a tongue-in-cheek trailer focusing entirely on him. He's popular enough that he's the only character in the film who has received any sort of merchandise, including a Funko Pop figure.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Inverted, oddly enough. Some interpret the film's Downer Ending in a much more positive context, as Alternate Aesop Interpretation shows.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • The witch in the woods takes the form of a busty, attractive young woman to ensnare the lusty Caleb.
    • At the end of the film, Black Phillip appears to Thomasin as a handsome, sharply-dressed gentleman when he successfully tempts her to witchcraft. He also speaks in an absurdly seductive whisper, almost like a caress.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The rabbit's frequent appearances. In Medieval religious art, the sin of cowardice was often represented by a knight fleeing in terror from a rabbit; among other things, it's the likely inspiration for the "Killer Rabbit" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For a devout Christian family obsessed with sin, the rabbit is a very appropriate symbol of irrational fear.
    • The language used by the witches in the film is actually Enochian, a supposedly angelic language used in 16th century occultism. In the coven scene, what they are chanting is The Eleventh Enochian Key, a funerary call used to herald the coming of the dead.
    • William's refusal to console Caleb and reassure him that Samuel is in heaven comes across as pointlessly cruel, but according to Puritan doctrine, entry to heaven could not be earned by an individual's actions or gained through specific sacraments, but only be granted by God, whose will is so beyond human understanding that his decisions would basically appear random from our perspective. Even in cases which should be obvious, claiming insight into divine processes was a major taboo.
    • By contrast, Katherine's anxiety that Samuel might be in hell because he died before having certain ceremonies performed conflicts with the Puritan belief that an individual's salvation is predestined from the moment of their birth, making it likely that she's a cultural Anglican who doesn't necessarily share her husband's fundamentalist views.
    • Black Phillip's garb when he appears to Thomasin as a human near the end of the film evokes that of a Cavalier, to contrast with Thomasin's Puritan family; many Puritans were Roundheads who supported the cause of Parliament against King Charles I in the English Civil War.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • There are a couple of sweet brother/sister moments between Caleb and Thomasin that makes it clear these two are very close. Following on from Caleb's lie about the apples, she playfully pretends to bite his head as if he's an apple. And when riding the horse through the woods, Thomasin tells him about their windows from back in England.
    • Katherine is initially paranoid and furious at William and Caleb for disappearing. William faces telling her that he sold her silver cup behind her back...and Caleb covers up by pretending he thought he saw an apple tree and they were hoping to surprise her. Katherine's mood changes completely and she gently thanks Caleb for thinking of her.
    • Likewise when William finally owns up to selling the silver cup, Katherine realises she was wrong to suspect Thomasin and softly says she needn't worry about doing her evening chores with the goats. Thomasin says she'll do them anyway to please her, and gets a little hug from her mother.
    • Even at the start of the film, you see that Katherine was happy and kind enough as she smiles and hands Samuel to Thomasin to take care of. The following scene of Thomasin playing peek-a-boo with Samuel turns sour when the baby vanishes, but it was cute to see her with her baby brother.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The witch that seduces Caleb is played by Sarah Stephens, who'd pose for Playboy three years later.
    • The interpretation that Thomasin could be the witch all along (though debunked by Word of God) is also amusing considering Anna Taylor-Joy's role in Split.
    • That theory got even more amusing when Taylor-Joy starred in Last Night in Soho alongside an actress named Thomasin whose character, going by the trailers, seems to be inhabiting her character's body in a form of Mental Time Travel.
    • Harvey Scrimshaw (Caleb's actor) ended up in The Devil's Outside, another film about a very religious family where the protagonist is a child who may be going mad.
  • It Was His Sled: You won't have much luck finding anyone who doesn't know that Black Phillip is Satan in disguise.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Katherine is even more of a zealot than her husband, being abusive to Thomasin throughout the film. But she may earn at least a little sympathy due to her grief over Sam's disappearance, and finally, with her Despair Event Horizon after her entire family (barring Thomasin) has been killed.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?"
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Some people, including Anya Taylor-Joy herself, interpret the film as a feminist empowerment story and see the ending, in which Thomasin renounces her faith and joins the witches' coven, as an act of liberation from the patriarchal and oppressive structures of Puritan society, ignoring that all of the suffering she endures in this movie is a direct result of Black Phillip and his witch servants purposefully destroying her family and breaking her down physically, mentally, and emotionally until she has no other choice but to either join them or die alone in the wilderness. Even though Puritan culture undeniably was a patriarchy, Black Phillip's coven is ultimately just another form of servitude under a male authority figure, and, considering the acts he demands from his servants (infanticide, child-molestation, gas-lighting, etc.), an even worse one.
    • The film was praised by the Satanic Temple, which endorsed it as "an impressive presentation of Satanic insight" and even hosted several screenings of it. While their interpretation is believable, director Robert Eggers didn't intend the film to be an endorsement of any religion.
  • Misaimed Marketing: The movie was billed as a straight-up supernatural horror story, when in reality it's closer to a psychological drama. Audiences expecting to see blood, sex, jump scares and demon faces ended up being very bored with the film's slow build and atmosphere of increasing dread. The film gets compared to The Babadook and Crimson Peak for this reason.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: For many viewers, Black Philip's voice.
  • Narm:
    • The witch that seduces Caleb, with her prominent cleavage and colorful clothes, looks more like someone with a sexy Halloween costume. It's also very obvious that the claw that grabs Caleb's head at the end of the scene isn't the woman's actual hand and is coming from someone else offscreen.
    • Caleb's fever mania after being seduced by the witch might count as a legitimately lurid moment, but the twins' chanting behind everybody during the entire scene makes it unintentionally funny.
    • Speaking about that scene, at one point Caleb feverishly exclaims "my bowels, my stomach, sin, sin sin!", which would not be questionable if his delivery of "my bowels" did not sound like "my balls" (as this review misinterpreted). While it actually does make some morbid sense given that he is implied to have been raped by the witch(es), it can be hard not to laugh at the sheer Mood Whiplash.
    • The phrase "live deliciously" sounds more like something a pretentious aesthete would say. Or an advertisement slogan for some kind of food.
    • The more overt supernatural elements of the film skirt this line. For example, how at the end Thomasin and Black Phillip fly up into the air with the other witches, and how the twins are met with the Witch's laugh when she's in the goat house.
  • Nausea Fuel: Katherine is tricked into thinking she's breast feeding Samuel, when it's actually a crow pecking at her nipples. The next morning, you can even see the dried blood stains on her nightgown.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The witch that seduces Caleb does not appear past that one scene, with no dialogue either. Because she's a delightful blend of eerie and attractive, most remember her.
  • Sci Fi Ghetto: While the critical acclaim and commercial success ensured the movie was out of the ghetto, it still overlaps with some people who claim it doesn't count as a horror film - insisting it's a 'psychological period thriller' - even though it's literally about Wicked Witches and the devil terrorising a family. Then there's also the interpretation that none of the supernatural stuff is real, which also befell another critically acclaimed genre film Pan's Labyrinth.
  • Signature Scene: Thomasin meeting Black Philip's human form and signing the book, and the scene immediately following where Thomasin joins the other witches in flying above the ground.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Thomasin was most likely lashing out because she was still stinging from Mercy's taunt, but claiming to be the witch that made Sam disappear and then threatening to do the same to everyone else was a horribly unwise decision. While Thomasin had no way of predicting how that would come back to bite her, Mercy or Caleb could have told their parents what she'd said and gotten her into an enormous amount of trouble, especially given that both parents were highly religious and still raw from Sam's disappearance... which Katherine already partially blamed her for.
    • William for getting himself and his family banished from the Commonwealth and going into the wilds in the first place, to say nothing of his stubborn refusal to leave there as it clearly becomes a problem.
  • The Woobie: Most of the characters can fall under this, but Thomasin definitely gets the brunt of it (unless you subscribe to the Alternative Character Interpretation of her above). She already starts out as The Un-Favourite among her siblings, is eventually accused of being a witch thanks to paranoia, is helpless to do anything as every other member of her family either dies or disappears note , is forced to kill her own mother in self-defence, and ends up completely alone on the farm (aside from Black Phillip). The ensuing Downer Ending may actually come as a relief for some, as Thomasin's transformation into a witch finally gives her a reprieve from all the trauma she's endured.


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