Review: BLAIR WITCH (2016)

By Darin Skaggs

 

Dream team Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett who have directed and written, respectively,  previous films like You’re Next and The Guest, which are both spectacular in my book, have come out with a new film. That movie is Blair Witch a sequel to the 1999 found footage movie The Blair Witch Project about three film students to trench off into the woods trying to see if the myth of the Blair Witch has any truth to it.

Here in the sequel twenty years later (the original “footage” was found in 1994, this footage was found in 2014) Heather’s brother James (James Allen McCune), Heather being a main cast member from the 1999 film, is desperate to go find his sister, if she is still out there. There he brings along his friend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) who provides camera’s to everyone, his childhood best friend Peter (Brandon Scott), Peter’s  girlfriend Ashley (Corbin Reid) and two cuckoo locals Lane (Wes Robison) and Talia (Valorie Curry). The plot described in its bareness is the same as its predecessor; the kids leave their cars, head into the woods, camp for a night and then are unable to find their way back. Even the later parts of the movie play out like the previous one. While some people think that this is just a rehash, it does do a few parts differently and adds to the overall mythology of the Blair Witch series.

The first film was subtle. It had moments of small voices heard in the distance, an instance of the tent shaking at night and walking up to a pile of rocks showing up out of nowhere. The finale gets a bit crazier with a loose tooth and the final moments in the house. In the Wingard version, it is bigger and louder. Some people are upset the sequel lost its ambiguity. I say that it makes sense that the Witch is louder at night, due to the fact that the cameras being used are more up to date, therefore can pick up better sound quality. I also believe that the Witch knows that kids are less sensitive to scares because of the slew of horror films that have come out since the original was released. The first one gives off the sense of dread of being lost. Well we cannot be lost anymore with our phones and other GPS devices, which are implanted in the cameras that our characters wear on their ear. There were hints of the supernatural in The Blair Witch Project, but here the Witch needs to be more active in these victims. It also has less chance to hide from the cameras. There were only two video cameras that were shooting the footage in the first one, and most of the time just one. Here we have little Bluetooth camera’s on four characters, Lane has his own personal one, Lisa has one as well and there is a drone that goes up in the air a few times. The movie is not going too big from the previous, the Witch is just adapting to the situation.

There are a lot of moments in the new film that are not explained. Ashley gets a cut on her foot that may or may not have something living in it, there is a moment with a burst of light coming through the windows and time travel is played with. The sound design here is awfully frightening. There are plenty of eerie sounds and moments of unexpected jump scares that pretty much all work. These are all spectacular editions to the movie. As a person that liked Lost and all its unresolved questions, because I got to interpret them myself, I loved these moments. The actors do well in this movie, they are likable and believable as modern twenty somethings. They might not be the smartest, but every decision they make is understandable.  When we finally get the house from the first, the film really starts to ramp up and becomes even more intense. The film is genuinely terrifying, pretty clever and a whole lot of fun.

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