The Witch Explained (The VVitch Plot And Ending)

The 2015 movie The Witch, also stylized The VVitch (with two Vs instead of W), is a folk horror made by Robert Eggers. This is his directorial debut, and he already has a marking of a man who is to make the critically acclaimed The Lighthouse. The movie also grossed insane numbers at the box office. With a budget of only $4 million, it made well over $40 million. Here’s why this movie got so much attention and propelled Anya Taylor-Joy’s and Robert Eggers’s careers into stardom. Here’s the plot and ending of The VVitch / The Witch explained; spoilers ahead.

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Contents

Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

The VVitch (The Witch): Plot Explained

The Witch The VVitch Full Family

A New England settler, William is banished from the colony and moves to a remote location with his wife Katherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, twins Mercy and Jacob, and a baby called Samuel.

One day, while Thomasin is playing with Samuel, the baby goes missing, never to be seen again. While it’s clear that dark forces are at play, the family convinces themselves that a wolf has taken the child. The mother, however, is deeply traumatized and can’t find it in her to forgive Thomasin.

The winter is near, and food is scarce. The corn harvest wasn’t as bountiful as the family had hoped, the traps were empty, and William was not much of a farmer. Caleb goes into the woods to try and hunt down something on his own, but he also goes missing.

One night, Caleb returns in a catatonic state, deliriously mumbling a twisted prayer. The family soon starts suspecting that there’s a witch in the forest that had kidnapped their family members. The accusations quickly turn the family against each other, and they are picked one by one by unnatural forces.

Caleb chokes on an apple and dies (a strong biblical reference). The twins, mesmerized, repeat the prayer to Black Phillip and drop to the floor, never to be shown in the movie again. The father is slain by the goat and buried under the pile of firewood, while Thomasin kills the mother. The ending of The Witch shows Thomasin walking into the woods and joining the witches in their Sabbath Dance around the fire. It’s left open for interpretation if this is real or her delusion.

The Witch (The VVitch): Authenticity

The early colonization of New England creates a powerful setting, both in terms of landscape and ambiance. Primitive hovel, rudimentary goat corral, and henhouse, as well as the improvised clearing, make the environment genuinely authentic. Modern landscaping ideas after tree removal are far from complex, but even that was hard to accomplish back in the day.

The next element of the movie that is worth praising is the language. The cast tried as hard as possible to stay true to the Early Modern English language of the first Puritan settlers. Even the stylized title of the movie as The VVitch instead of The Witch is a testament to that.

The beliefs of early Puritan settlers and the religious extremism of the era are well portrayed through William. This is a period drama, and in this day and age, religion dominates every aspect of one’s life. While he may seem extreme to us, William probably wasn’t any more zealous than most of his contemporaries.

One thing that I found particularly interesting is the subversion of the skilled frontiersman myth. William is a family patriarch, so he’s supposed to be tough, resourceful, and capable. However, during one interaction with Thomasin, she mentions that he can’t grow crops, can’t hunt and that his wife henpecks him. This was undoubtedly true for numerous people of the era, but it’s a portrayal we never see on screen.

The Witch (The VVitch): Biblical Elements

The movie is described as folk horror, and these folk story elements are tightly intertwined with the movie’s plot. Other than this, there are so many biblical motifs throughout the movie.

First, the family’s banishment from the plantation is supposed to mirror Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden. The apple tree that Caleb talks about and later choking on might be referencing this.

Every family member has a sin, ranging from their father’s vanity to Caleb’s lust.

Moreover, to evolve into a witch, Thomasin must first free herself from the joke of patriarchy. The movie starts with the sacrifice of Samuel, the family’s youngest member. Caleb, the oldest son, is the next family member to succumb to the witch. Ultimately, the father, William, is killed by Black Phillip and buried under a pile of chopped firewood (the fruit of his masculine labor). The murder of her mother seals the deal and permanently sets Thomasin on her path.

The VVitch (The Witch): Who is Black Phillip?

Devil is often portrayed as a billy goat. This aligns perfectly with the Black Phillip (the family’s black billy goat).

Frequently Asked Questions Answered

The Witch: What happened to Caleb?

Why is it called The VVitch?

The title VVitch is the Early Modern English variant of the word Witch. The movie tries to be as authentic as possible to the early colonization period of New England, and this is one of the examples. Besides spelling, pronunciation and archaisms are also prominent in the movie.

The VVitch (The Witch): What is it about?

The movie is a folk legend of early witchcraft in colonial New England. It puts a spin on the majority of folk beliefs regarding witches. Besides this, it describes how a somber, isolated farmstead is a perfect setting for a mixture of superstition and mass hysteria. Until the very end, it’s unclear whether supernatural elements are real or hallucinations.

The VVitch (The Witch): Why were they banished?

While the specifics are unknown, the family was believed to be banished over a religious dispute. William is a vain man, and he probably thought that he alone could correctly interpret the word of god.

The VVitch (The Witch): What did the witch do to the baby?

There are two interpretations of why the witch sacrificed the baby. First, she may have used the innocent’s blood to rejuvenate her body. This is a common folk belief and might be rooted in the movie. Second, in today’s world, witches are often depicted as early feminist figures, tormented and prosecuted by the patriarchal society. The sacrifice of a man from a patriarchal family may symbolize nipping the patriarchy in the bud.

The VVitch (The Witch): What happened to the twins?

While this is uncertain, it is most likely that the twins died offscreen. Because they were baptized, it is unlikely they were ritually sacrificed like their younger brother Samuel. 

The VVitch (The Witch): What happened to Caleb?

Caleb was lost in the woods and stumbled upon a beautiful young woman. The woman turned out to be a witch, kidnapped, cursed, and afflicted Caleb with an unknown illness. A day later, Caleb succumbs to his wounds and dies.

What does the ending of The VVitch mean?

The ending of the movie The VVitch depicts Tomasin’s ascension as a full-fledged witch. While it’s unclear whether what she sees is real or a hysteria-induced hallucination, the scene is relatively straightforward. What is depicted is a Witches’ Sabbath dance around the bonfire, or at least how it’s described in folk tales.

Who was the witch in The VVitch?

This is left uncertain, even though we know that the witch was portrayed by Bathsheba Garnett (old) and Sarah Stephens (young). Still, by the end of the movie, we can see that there is a whole coven of witches nearby, and Thomasin even becomes one of them.

The Witch (The VVitch): Conclusion

Ultimately, the depiction of witchcraft in the movie is taken straight from old tales. This movie is a period drama in the purest sense of the word. The emphasis on authenticity is heavy, and the movie The VVitch is as atmospheric as possible. The cinematography, lighting, soundtrack, and color pallet enhance the impression of being on a New England farmstead in 1630 and do the job pretty well. All in all, it’s a movie definitely worth watching.

What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of The Witch (The VVitch)? Drop your comments below.