But seriously. I get the language problem. I've been reading religious writings in Middle English so it wasn't super hard for me to pick it up, but I understand it being an issue. So yes, they were exiled for being too religious. From a group of already super Puritans.
On the ending. I think part of what the movie does, and I should have tried to get at this in my review which I'll repost at the bottom of this post, is to show how easily we recreate the rules and structures that we struggle under even when we leave them because of that struggle. So when the family goes out into the woods, they go even harder on the patrician puritan stuff. Witches are the opposite of this. They are early feminists (the broom, by the way, has a bit of a different use than just flying, though that shot is still my favorite of the year so far). They break from society and become a coven of women where they need not bend or bow to men, or at least earthly men. Yes, in a modern setting and with modern eyes, having to go through the devil to get there is less than ideal, as it still keeps men as the gatekeeper, but with Eggers's use of period documents, he was a bit shackled by their own thoughts at the time. I loved the ending.
A family is exiled. A baby disappears, a woman cries, a man chops, a girl grows up, a boy wants to, and two kids talk to a goat. This is The Witch, a story of family turmoil, faith, and, you know, a witch. It is an exquisitely composed movie, compiled out of language taken directly from period documents, clothes and sets designed and constructed by period accurate (or as close as possible) methods, and filmed mostly in available light. That means it's dark, and the movie matches the visuals with its thematic concerns. How difficult it must have been to be a Puritan! No room for earthly mistakes, God will punish any and all sins, and the people will make sure they get in on the action too.
For a good portion of the film there are not a whole lot of horror trappings outside the creeping sense of dread so expertly set up in the opening minutes. Instead of jump scares and an emphasis on the antagonist, the film instead focuses on the complicated family dynamics at play as an already tough situation grows infinitely more difficult when the youngest member, still unbaptized, poofs away in a cut. All of this is really well done, supported by an excellent cast and a keenly observant camera. How delightful it is to see a horror film (and it is a horror film!) that is equal to the more traditionally accepted definitions of quality that I must often overlook when it comes to my favorite genre.
I would like to end by talking about how scary this movie is. It is scary. It is getting painted with the same brush as last year's It Follows and the prior year's The Babadook, that it creates a good vibe of creepiness but it isn't scary. As if those things aren't equal. This movie is a testament to the power of a mood created by a group of people working at the top of their (or anybody else's) game. The score is probably the biggest culprit in the creation of this mood, but there are scenes and moments here which are astounding in their terror. Just thinking about them as I write this makes me feel like a terrifying black goat walked over my grave. And the ending! It totally delivers. Like the rest of the movie.