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'Puritan's nightmare' revisited with 'The Witch'

Brian Truitt
USA TODAY

America has some old fairy and folk tales from its early history that leaned toward darkness. And that's the vibe writer/director Robert Eggers was aiming for with The Witch (in theaters Feb. 19).

Anya Taylor-Joy stars in 'The Witch.'

In this new featurette exclusively premiering at USA TODAY, Eggers explains he wanted to tap into the dangers faced by folks in the 17th century with a plot that centers on an English family in Massachusetts whose baby is abducted from their farm — on the watch of the oldest daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy) — and the clan turns against each other while also worrying about a possible witch in the nearby woods.

"I wanted to create an archetypal New England horror story," Eggers says of The Witch, which won him a best director prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival. "If you could upload a Puritan's nightmare into the audience's brain, that's what I was hoping people could experience."