Because we are all watching Netflix and Hulu and digging through the garage to find that old VHS player because we cannot stomach rewatching IRON MAN 2 again, there are 7 billion people desperate for something new and glorious they hadn’t seen already.
So what makes something great compared to that thing you clicked off after ten minutes because it put you in a coma?
THE WITCH PART 1: SUBVERSION is a beautiful example of a great movie with a meh title. It’s a South Korean action movie that isn’t like other South Korean action movies, because (a) yes, damn near everyone dies at the end, which is required, but (b) the story here is quite different.
It’s the structure and storytelling that makes this movie special, not the acting or special effects. Watch the trailer, then let’s dive into it.
Subverting expectations is glorious
This movie starts fast and is a slow burn in the first third. Then the last half has some of the best twists, reversals, revelations, and fights scenes in forever.
Here’s the crucial difference: in most movies, the hero/heroine is always a step behind the villains. Only in the end do they learn what’s really happening, usually during the Villain’s Big Monologue When He Should Be Killing Errybody, and the climax features an overmatched protag somehow finding a way to beat the unstoppable genius villain.
THE WITCH reminds me of why I love SHIMMER LAKE, and it’s because they reverse this normal dynamic. The villains are a step behind the hero the whole time, though you don’t know that until the end, and the climax features an overmatched villain getting outsmarted and crushed. So yeah, it’s a romp at the end, but so, so, satisfying.
Just for kicks, here’s the trailer for SHIMMER LAKE, which you should watch, then watch again. It’s brilliant.
Honestly, I’ve watched dozens of movies in the last few months, and even the decent ones don’t really surprise you at the end. They hit the same old notes and use the same old formulas.
It takes talent and discipline to structure a movie like THE WITCH, or SHIMMER LAKE, to subvert all those tropes and expectations. When it happens, it’s glorious to see.
Fire up the Netflix and watch this thing.
Then watch SHIMMER LAKE to see who two movies with completely different genres have similar clever endings that are so satisfying.