Until it goes off the rails in its third act, The Witch maintains an unnerving, tense aura of creepiness and dread. The dread comes not from gore or bloodshed, but from the overwhelming threat of violence that seems inevitable in a 1630s Puritan setting. That is Puritan, not puritanical. These folks in bonnets and heavy cloth seem like the real witches; they would be willing to sacrifice their children if commanded to do so. The Witch occurs in an environment where religious devotion and the desire to avoid the hot place approach insanity.