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The Witch [2016] [R] - 5.7.3



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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A Puritan farmer (Ralph Ineson), his pregnant wife (Kate Dickie) and their four children are banished from a New England settlement in 1630. When their newborn vanishes from their isolated farm, the mentally unstable mother blames her oldest daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy), who was playing peek-a-boo with the infant at the time of the disappearance. Two other children (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson) accuse their sister of witchcraft, while they themselves make bargains with evil entities. Also with Bathsheba Garnett and Harvey Scrimshaw. Directed by Robert Eggers. [1:30]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A woman wearing a deeply cut dress that reveals an immense amount of cleavage leaves a hut as she raises long skirts to reveal one bare leg from knee to foot while a pre-teen boy stares at her; she moves toward him and leans down (her cleavage becoming larger), she strokes his face, kisses him on the lips for several seconds and her hand turns to wrinkles; the scene cuts to the naked boy standing in the rain with his back against a fence toward the camera (we see full back nudity). A long shot shows a young woman in full back nudity as she walks into the dark forest with a goat at her side.
 We see the hip, abdomen and upper thigh of a woman standing in dim light behind a baby lying with head toward the lens on a table as two wrinkled hands unwrap the child and we can see the infant's penis, which a hand grasps as the other hand places a large dull-looking knife blade against it and the screen goes black (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A pre-teen boy stares at his slightly older sister's small cleavage in her V-necked dress. A teenage girl pulls her pre-teen brother into her lap as she sits by a pond and rocks him with his head against her shoulder and upper chest briefly. A young teen girl helps remove her father's billowy shirt and we see his bare chest. Looking into the camera in close-up, a young woman opens her night dress and drops it (we see her bare shoulders; please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). We see a man's bare back as he walks away.
 In a forest at night, a long shot shows seven nude women at a bonfire, chanting and writhing, holding long wooden staves: two of them appear to have paint or some type of light fur over their breasts while the other bare breasts without distinct nipples and all have indistinct genital areas. We see an elderly woman in a close-up as she rubs blood over her stomach, abdomen, navel, and the top of one hip and thigh (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details) and we then see her lying on the floor with her back and head in shadows as she convulses (her breasts are shown, without distinct nipples) shaking briefly before the screen goes black; in two other scenes we see her nude backside briefly as she faces a dark corner in a barn).
 In a dark hut, firelight from off-screen shines onto the back of an elderly woman who stands facing halfway into a much darker corner (we see her back and buttocks) as she thrusts her arms powerfully up and down and it is unclear whether she has a wooden staff in her hands and thrusting it against her groin or a staff with which she is pounding blood from an unseen victim (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A woman is pregnant with a swollen belly beneath her long skirts and aprons. A woman breastfeeds an infant and we see the top of one breast bulging against the obscured face of the newborn.

VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - We see the horns of a goat just above the frame as it apparently grabs a man and pulls him away, and we then see the man flung into a wooden wall above the frame, his stomach ripped open and bloody (no organs are visible while his mouth drips blood); holding his stomach, he grabs an axe as the goat butts him into a cord of wood, which buries him (death is implied) and his wife enters, screaming, slams her daughter into a wall, then onto the ground, then slaps the girl, chokes her, and grabs a knife, but cuts herself in the face as we hear a cutting sound (blood drips from long red cuts on the mother's face onto the daughter's face and throat); the daughter grabs the knife and slashes across the mother's face three times until the woman falls dead on top of her and the girl cries as she hugs her mother's bloody head, face down.
 A woman in her bedroom hallucinates her dead pre-teen boy holding her dead infant while sitting on a stool; the woman hugs the boy and looks into the camera in close-up as we hear a male voice whisper from off-screen to nurse the baby and she smiles and nods agreement as she opens the collar of her long dress and the camera cuts to the yard, then back to the bedroom where the woman sits in a wooden chair, laughing as a large raven sits in a blanket in her lap, piercing and eating red flesh from her mutilated, missing breast, where we see gore and blood. A hand of an elderly woman pulls a newborn's penis up as he lies on his back and the other hand places a large knife blade against it; the scene cuts to black and returns to a woman's stomach, abdomen, and thigh from a side angle as she rubs bright blood over them (the infant's blood is implied as a witch's sacrifice for youth).
 We hear screaming from inside a house where a family rush into a pre-teen boy's sickroom; we see him gagging and his father finds blood in his mouth, takes out a knife, cuts something loose and the boy spits out a bloody whole apple and drips blood from his mouth before having seizures. A pre-teen boy returns home from a forest encounter with a woman (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), ill and muttering with fever (sores line his lips and red cuts appear on his shoulders and forearms); the boy's mother uses a long knife blade to cut the corner of his eyebrow (blood flows into a basin held by a young teen girl).
 A man shuts his three children into a small goat barn and nails boards over the opening, leaving them there with three goats; we hear pounding sounds and two of the children hyperventilate as a goat in the structure transforms into a wrinkled, crouching elderly woman (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) that turns around and cackles loudly with a gory mouth, beak-like nose, and wild eyes, just before the camera cuts to a view of the house. A young woman looks into the camera and we hear a male voice whisper from off-screen, instructing her to remove her dress and come with him (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) as two gloved hands appear on her shoulders; we see blood spatter and red scratches across her throat and collar bones as the camera cuts to a long shot of her in full back nudity as she walks into the dark forest with a goat at her side.
 Lying in bed, a pre-teen boy recites prayers and trembles, then laughs hysterically, sits up and falls back, asking an unnamed deity to take him while his parents and siblings pray; the mother screams and cries, shaking him, but he is dead with his eyes open.
 A pre-teen boy and his teen sister ride a horse into the woods and we see a dead rabbit hanging from the saddle as a dog chases a rabbit into the woods and the horse throws the girl; the camera cuts to the girl regaining consciousness on the ground and as she gets up and looks for the others, she finds only the torn and bloody body of the dog stretched out against a fallen log.
 A dark, indistinct figure walks away carrying a baby through the woods, but no footprints are evident. A dark rabbit appears in the nearby woods, a goat stall, and yard, but can never be caught. A woman washes the body of her dead son and we see his bare, gray lower legs and feet sticking out of a sheet. A couple buries their dead son and the mother lies down in the grave over the sheet-wrapped boy. A female goat gives blood instead of milk and a teen girl startles and kicks over the milk pail (blood runs across the ground). We hear screeching sounds from off-screen and a man discovers his goat barn torn to pieces, with the bloody bodies of two goats lying on the ground, his daughter coming-to in the doorway on the ground and two of his other children missing.
 A wife screams uncontrollably and beats her husband in the face and nose with her fists; he later holds tree bark to his nose to prevent bleeding (no blood seen). A little girl and little boy double up in pain during prayer, screech, and convulse as they lie on the floor, followed by unconsciousness; they won't wake up and their father shouts at another daughter, "Did you make some unholy bond with that goat?" as he hauls the boy up into the air by his shirt collar and the boy screams. A young girl says that she is a witch and put the devil into her pre-teen bother who became ill and died; the mother says the boy was made sick by the devil and blames her young teen daughter, screaming at her in several scenes and pulling her hair in one scene.
 A young girl accuses her teen sister of being a witch and their father shouts loudly. A man accuses his daughter of witchcraft, which she denies, but he browbeats her with insistence that God will save her; they argue loudly and she calls him a liar and hypocrite for getting the family kicked out of a religious settlement for "prideful conceit." A man and a woman argue loudly several times. A man shouts and severely questions his oldest daughter outside, shakes her, throws her to the ground, and drags her to the house on the ground by the hair where she denies witchcraft and becomes angry, crying. A young girl and a young boy with sticks chase a goat and their father yells at them. A little girl says that she is a witch and runs in circles with a long stick between her legs as her teen sister tells her to be quiet and says she herself is a witch, made a baby disappear and will make other people disappear, including the little girl, who cries. A teen girl says her spirit danced naked with the devil. A pre-teen boy panics and asks his father if a baby was taken by the devil and is in hell, but the father cannot answer. Two children say several times that they have seen a black wolf, a possessed rabbit, a witch, and Lucifer. A woman repeats stories about seeing a black wolf and says the devil killed their corn crop. A little girl accuses an older girl of witchcraft and shouts, "She put a curse on me!" A teen girl hears loud screaming behind a curtain in her house and finds her mother lying down and crying loudly. We hear a baby crying, but there is no baby, the newborn having disappeared.
 When a young woman is led to a bonfire in the woods by a goat, she smiles as women around the fire dance and howl, flip their long hair, and then levitate (please see the Substance Use category for more details); the young woman levitates as she laughs in a mad voice and we see her floating mid-air at the top of a very tall fir tree and the screen goes black.
 A man loads and adds a fuse to a very long rifle, shoots at a rabbit, but the gun backfires and sparks in his eye (he is uninjured); he shouts and rubs his eye to clear it. A man and a pre-teen boy set a leg-hold trap in the woods without bait.
 Ominous music with screeching violins and cellos and wailing female voices plays in the film from the early point that a family moves to an isolated place through the end of the film. A family isolated in rural New England in cold rainy months of 1630 is shown to be angry, depressed, they experience hallucinations, poverty, unusually unruly children, disappearances, the death of two siblings and murder.
 A teen girl finds a cracked egg on the ground by a barn and a bloody young chick lying halfway out. A teen girl mucks out a goat stall and we see straw and manure. A man falls into a pile of manure.

PROFANITY 3 - 2 anatomical terms, 5 mild obscenities, name-calling (liar, evil witch, hypocrite, creature, fool, coward, shrew, bewitched, Lucifer), exclamations (silence, be quiet), 17 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, God, My Lord, Jesus Christ, The Devil Is In Thee, The Lord's Prayer, a prayer for protection, a before-dinner prayer, a prayer asking forgiveness). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A woman facing into a dark corner appears to forcefully rub a wooden staff (like a broomstick) between her legs to absorb hallucinogens on it and convulses while gasping on the floor (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details), several women each hold a wooden pole as they writhe and chant around a campfire (possibly drugged) before levitating into the treetops, and a dish of herbs boils beside a bedridden boy (acting as a vaporizer).

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Early American history, settling harsh New England, isolation, Puritan rules and beliefs, rural mental illnesses, post-partum depression, drug and herb use by women in the 1600s, childbirth, puberty, superstition, murder, human sacrifice, survival, marriage, family, responsibility.

MESSAGE - Harsh environmental conditions, strict religious requirements, and misunderstanding of native herbs and drugs lead to superstition and illness.

Special Keywords: S5 - V7 - P3 - MPAAR

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