Blair Witch, 2016.
Directed by Adam Wingard.
Starring James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson and Corbin Reid.
A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to unravel the mystery of the legendary Blair Witch.
Admittedly, 17 years ago The Blair Witch Project was revolutionary for the horror genre. It was the beginning of the found footage frenzy, but more to the point, people believed (and some still do to this day because they are oblivious to life) that all of the findings and revelations within the woods actually happened. On one hand it’s all just idiocracy at work, but on the other you have to applaud the film-making and marketing departments for pulling off such an impressive feat. Bravo, you redefined horror.
So what can a direct sequel to the events of the original film under the impressive film-making skills of director Adam Wingard (The Guest, which is a terrific 80’s retro vibed slasher film putting everything from Halloween and The Terminator into a blender) add to the mythology? The answer is not very much. To be honest, I was bored out of my mind throughout the first hour or so, wondering why Blair Witch was put into production. The innovator has become the bottom of the barrel garbage copycat, ripping off of everything from its predecessor and other movies that have followed in its footsteps.
With all due respect, the production design of the movie is outstanding. Especially the sound effects whenever characters carefully navigate the woods stepping on rocks, or awkwardly twisting their feet into something on the ground. The run-down destroyed looking house our protagonists once again find in the middle of nowhere looks absolutely filthy and disgusting. Even the brief glimpses of the titular witch herself are pretty freaky, mostly because her on camera appearances are usually not wholly in focus, leaving both a terrifying visual image and a lot left to imagine for yourself. Also, there is a modernization of the found footage as characters now have access to airborne drones. Oh yeah, there is a great dosage of body horror too during the earlier stages of the film that is downright nausea inducing.
The problem is that all of the horror once again comes from characters constantly running and bumping into things while screaming their lungs out. The entire movie is essentially a cacophony of loud noises. It’s never-ending, and by 30 minutes into the movie you have had enough and already want it to end. None of the characters are interesting (the entire story is just a group of college kids doing a documentary project in the woods while helping their friend locate his sister that went missing in the original film), and no story whatsoever to keep us rooting for these people that honestly, just keep putting themselves into dangerous and stupid situations. As far as I’m concerned, whether they live or die has no impact on me. You’re left rooting for the malevolent woods and the hideous looking witch, because you know that once they kill everyone off the movie will finally come to its conclusion.
Thankfully, Blair Witch is mercifully short, and does actually get somewhat frightening once the characters reach the house. It seems as if once the witch is actually in play and hunting down characters, Adam Wingard conjures up much more interesting ideas to put on screen. He also effectively works in a nice twist that fits right in with what these woods and inexplicable supernatural forces are capable of. If nothing else, the ending scene is one of the best things in a horror movie all year, but it just happens to come in one of the worst movies of the year in the genre, which to make things more unfortunate is already having a bar raising year.
File this one under unnecessary remake/sequels that need not to exist. The only thing it will be remembered for is the San Diego Comic-Con shocker that the trailer we had been viewing in theaters was actually a sequel to the groundbreaking 1999 horror flick that made gangbusters on a shoestring budget. Honestly, even by next year most people will probably have forgotten about that swerve.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★