“Blair Witch”

MATT: 2.5 STARS


MATT SAYS:

“Blair Witch” is yet another unnecessary “requel” that neither improves on its predecessor or presents any meaningful justification for its existence. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s also hard to understand why the people involved with making it felt that it was worth doing.

The Blair Witch Project” took the world by storm in 1999. It’s still respected as one of the top horror films of all time, and for good reason: many people remember it fondly for having scared the wits out of them when they first saw the film, and its found-footage style has inspired scads of imitators. Through the haze of memory, most people don’t remember that “The Blair Witch Project” was 85% repetitive and sort of boring, with the only real scares coming at the climax, with that end scene. But oh, what an ending scene that was. It’s still by far one of the scariest sequences ever committed to film, and for that reason the movie stays in our collective consciousness.

Which is apparently why some folks thought a sequel, set 15 years later, would be a good idea. This version of the story comes from genre darling filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (“You’re Next” and “The Guest“) but lacks the usual flair or originality that I’ve come to expect from them.

Although the film does reference its predecessor, “Blair Witch” really does feel like a remake that does the same thing as the first movie, only with updated technology (smaller cameras, a drone, GPS locators, etc.) that, while cool, does really nothing to measurably advance the story. The sequel hook is that in this film, James (James Allen McCune) is the younger sibling of Heather Donahue — one of the trio that went missing in the first movie — and he incredibly believes that she may somehow still be alive (!!!) and organizes a group to go and try to find her. That premise is so farfetched that it puts an initial taint on the “Blair Witch”, but that alone would not have been insurmountable if the update was good enough to stand on its own.

The key problem here is that since the original movie was released, so many found footage films have been made that retelling the same story with new and different characters is no longer going to be good enough. While the technical specifications (video quality and sound design) are markedly better in this version, there really isn’t much else to differentiate this one from its predecessor. . . that is, until the final scene.

But whereas the first film benefits from a lean approach that does maximizes its scares with a short ending scene that is legitimately terrifying because of what you don’t see, “Blair Witch” takes the opposite approach; its final scene is about four times as long and it shows you everything. Drawing things out like that takes away a lot of the dread factor, and being shown the source of the thing that goes bump in the night is ultimately unsatisfying.

“Blair Witch” isn’t terrible, but it’s not going to re-invent the genre, either.


Louisa was unavailable for review.

3 thoughts on ““Blair Witch””

  1. Heather DONAHUE?!?! Now I think I need to go to the Blair Witch woods and find her too… even though it’s been 15 years…

    Definitely agree with the unexceptionableness of the movie… what did you think about all the illogic?

    Like

  2. The film was awful in so many ways. The premise that Heather could be still alive is absolutely preposterous. Her brother’s tearful speech that he failed her was laughable and it came at time when the audience should be quaking in its collective boots.

    Yeah, the film was a remake of the original film but only this time it included numerous false scares/ jump moments, the ominous sounds in the woods from the original became super loud boom sounds.

    The characters acted as stupid as the ones in typical slasher films (i.e. “oh, I am going to go pee so far out in the woods – alone – in the dark – that I won’t be able to find my way back and so the witch can get me; it’s raining hard out right now, I think I’ll climb up this tree to retrieve this photo drone (!!!)). WTF.

    I was thoroughly annoyed with this film. It wasn’t scary at all but the constant false jumps scare made me almost want to walk out. I cannot remember a horror film with so many false scares. The characters were all idiots and I wanted them all to die. And the finale was just another remake of the original’s final scene – with a more elaborate style but far, far less effective. Nothing can really measure up to the final shot of Blair Witch. This one doesn’t even come close.

    The only purpose this film serves is to demonstrate what made the original Blair Witch Project such an amazing, scary and exceptional horror film.

    I gave this film * (out of *****).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review. I agree….it wasn’t a bad movie, nor was it anything original or new. Some it’s somewhere in the middle. I thought it okay (it held my interest).

    Liked by 1 person

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