A REHASH OF ITS 1999 PREDECESSOR, BUT WITH A FEW MORE EFFECTIVE SCARES ADDED IN!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Return to the woods in Blair Witch
What can you really say about the 1999 horror movie, The Blair Witch Project that hasn’t been said already? It was a critical and commercial success and became the highest grossing independent movie of all time, and it was a satisfying return to eerie suspense during an era where slashers and torture porn reigned supreme. Not to mention, it was the movie that pretty much brought found-footage movies to the mainstream movie-goers and inspired other found-footage films like Cloverfield, the Paranormal Activity franchise, and Chronicle, this was a movie that achieved so much with so little.
And then in 2000, a sequel was released the year after the first film, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 which completely missed what made the original great. It was a standard Hollywood horror movie with I must admit, a clever concept where the movie exists in the world of Blair Witch 2 but it failed to capitalize on it, thus making it a complete disaster.
Now seventeen years later, a true sequel to The Blair Witch Project was released, Blair Witch, which at first sounded like another lousy horror remake. Really, a better title for it would have been Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows Doesn’t Exist, but I digress.
Unlike its 2000 sequel, Blair Witch follows in the original’s footsteps as another found-footage film with more focus on atmosphere rather than gore. Also I have to give the movie props for its ingenious marketing campaign, remember when Cloverfield was coming out and the original trailer didn’t show the title? Well, Blair Witch did something like that by creating a fake name called The Woods.
But now, the movie’s out, how does it hold up? Pretty much like every other found-footage movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. The movie’s decent and its scares are an improvement over the first movie where really the scary things happened at the very end of The Blair Witch Project.
But I’m not gonna lie, after seeing all the found-footage movies we get today, this does seem like a really unnecessary movie to exist, not to mention it doesn’t do much new with it. However, when the scares get going, they leave you on the edge of your seat and you start sinking your teeth into your popcorn.
The film follows a group of college students venturing into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the secrets of the Blair Witch Project tape and uncover the mysteries behind the disappearance of one of their sisters, Heather Donahue (The girl from the first film). Her brother, James Donahue (James Allen McCune-Homeland, The Walking Dead, Snitch) claims that Heather might be still alive and lost somewhere in the woods.
James, along with his friends, Lisa Arlington (Callie Hernandez-Machete Kills, From Dusk till Dawn: The Series, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Peter Jones (Brandon Scott), Ashley Bennett (Corbin Reid), Lane (Wes Robinson), and Talia (Valorie Curry-Veronica Mars, CSI: NY, Psych) drive to the Black Hills Forest and document their events while searching for the secrets of the Blair Witch as well as James’ sister.
Little do they know, a lot of paranormal activity does in fact happen, at first they seem hopeful about the entire journey but after countless nights they slowly discover that they are being visited by a menacing presence. They soon realize the Blair Witch legend is all too real and more sinister than they ever could have imagined.
Overall, Blair Witch is the follow-up to The Blair Witch Project that film enthusiasts deserve and not once do they reference Book of Shadows (Otherwise I would have left the theater). They took the Jurassic World route with this movie and said “Yeah, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 never happened!” and thank God.
I consider the scares to be an improvement over the first movie, but the first movie I feel had better atmosphere, plus it had some the best build-up I’ve ever seen in a scary movie, and it kept you on your toes all the way through. This was pretty much every other found-footage movie from recent years, which is a shame because I was hoping since The Blair Witch Project brought found-footage filmmaking to the mainstream, I thought Blair Witch would have redefined the genre and took more chances, but as is, it’s just a generic found-footage horror movie, not bad, but nothing special.
If you enjoyed the first movie and want to see a true follow-up, you’ll get what you’re looking for with Blair Witch. Just don’t expect that much new added into the film, but you will get some inventive scares and that’s more than enough to see it.