Prior to last February, I had never heard the name Anya Taylor-Joy. Of course, that all changed when I bought a ticket to see The Witch. I had found a new favorite actress.
Most horror fans (myself included) consider Robert Eggers’ The Witch to be one of the best horror movies released last year; and if you feel that way, you’ll surely agree with me that Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance as the young Thomasin is one of the most unforgettable aspects of it. In her review of the film here on Bloody Disgusting, Kalyn Corrigan praised Taylor-Joy’s performance in the film, writing that she was “spectacular as the sweet, innocent child who grows tainted when the harshness of colonial times drives her family mad.” She added, “As her purity is defiled, the light in her eyes grows wicked and dangerously playful, lending to the thought that perhaps all her family’s accusations towards her might hold some legitimacy.”
Indeed, the nuance of Taylor-Joy’s performance in The Witch is perhaps the most impressive thing about the film; doubly so when you consider that it was the young actress’s very first major role on screen. She had previously made an uncredited appearance in 2014’s Vampire Academy, as well as in one episode of the TV series “Endeavour,” but it wasn’t until the role of Thomasin came along that the Florida-born actress was introduced to the masses. Her performance has been touted as one of the best breakouts of the entire year, and you won’t find me disagreeing.
In fact, she nabbed several awards in that very category.
Suddenly, it seemed that Anya Taylor-Joy was everywhere, particularly here in the horror genre. She starred as the title character in last year’s sci-film Morgan, and thought I haven’t yet seen the film for myself, I wasn’t surprised to see Jonathan Barkan describe her acting in it as “fantastic,” in his review for this very site. He added that she “embraced the role and demonstrated a wonderful approach to a character who is adult in sight but a child mentally.”
Not that we need a reason, but the reason we’re bringing up Anya Taylor-Joy today is because she’s starring in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, out in theaters this weekend. She plays Casey Cooke, a strange girl who isn’t exactly like her peers. As it turns out, her particular brand of weird makes her uniquely qualified to deal with the situation she and her “friends” end up in (they’re kidnapped by James McAvoy’s villain and locked up in a basement), and as Casey, Taylor-Joy is a horror heroine worth rooting for and admiring. As Trace Thurman noted in his Fantastic Fest review of Split, “she isn’t given enough material to truly shine,” which may be true, but Taylor-Joy’s incredible talents and otherworldly beauty ensure Casey is a character you can’t take your eyes off of.
What’s next for Anya Taylor-Joy? She’ll be starring in Sergio G. Sanchez’s thriller Marrowbone later this year, and per a recent interview with Cinema Blend, she doesn’t plan on leaving the horror genre behind anytime soon. She explained to the site why she loves the genre:
As an actor, it is such a pleasure to work in horror movies, or in anything that allows you to feel that intensity of feeling. I have way too many feelings, and it’s really nice to go somewhere, scream, break stuff, run around, cry. At the end of the day I go home and I’m so relaxed. I’m like ‘Ok, and I’m done.’
Please do continue screaming, breaking stuff and kicking ass. We look forward to it.