Aside from its misbegotten coda, The Witches beautifully captures the surreal grotesqueness of Roald Dahl’s 1983 children’s book. The violence, menace, and food-related nastiness of Dahl’s tome are brought to the screen in all their horrific glory by director Nicholas Roeg, whose preponderance of cockeyed camera angles and extreme close-ups lend a fittingly bizarre quality to the fantastical tale.
His instincts were right. The Witches contains gruesome images, but it's the way Roeg presents them that makes it a genuine horror film. While most children's films restrict their visual language to familiar stable camera shots, Roeg uses a combination of classic cinematic horror techniques—handheld camera, POV shots, extreme close-ups, and low angles and Dutch tilts—to create an atmosphere of chaos and terror.