DVD Movie Review: Blair Witch (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 31.01.2017 1

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Blair Witch (UK Rating: 15)

While the original movie, The Blair Witch, divided audiences, it's undisputable it was an original and impactful movie. However, the sequel - Book of Shadows - failed to even win over the diehard fans of the original, but now they get a sequel with some promising pedigree, from acclaimed horror director Adam Wingard. This latest film is a direct sequel to the first story, but can it live up to it?

Blair Witch feels like a group of movie executives got together and took the formula that worked with the original and decided to do it again… but bigger! Once again, a group of stupid young adults are out to investigate the Blair Witch, but this time also to investigate what happened during the original film. The new group is centred round James, this little brother of Heather from the first film. James was four when his sister went missing and now, almost two decades later, more footage has been discovered, which could potentially show the truth about what happened to his sister. Despite a massive manhunt finding no traces of his sister or even the house shown in the footage, James figures he might have more luck, so decides to head out into the wilderness, accompanied by his best friend Peter, Peter's girlfriend Ashley, and a film student who wants to document the search, because that went so well the first time. The group also enlists a pair of creepy locals who found the new footage, to give a bigger potential body count than the first.

What follows is a very generic "stupid people in a forest doing stupid things" movie where something lurks in the darkness; a movie that keeps too many of the same beats as the original. The group quickly gets lost and is surrounded by creepy noises and strange occurrences. These moments are so over the top compared to the original, though, and instead of the strange whispers and hushed creepy noises in the dark, there is some strange roar that sounds like a cross between a T-Rex, a bear, and a platypus. They even try to ret-con some of the original, showing the footage from it with the same silly roaring noise.

Just like The Blair Witch, this new Blair Witch opens with a message that the footage that makes up the film is assembled from memory cards and DV tapes found in the Black Hills Forest in 2014 and it is all again set up as a found-footage film, but this time the group uses so many different cameras that switch so often, it's hard to see why they set this up as another found footage flick since rarely does it work here. Even worse, for some reason the filmmakers decided that every time they switched to a different camera, there needed to be an electrical static noise or pop. This may have been as a counterpoint to the stark nature of the film having no soundtrack, to give a counterpoint to all the silence, but it's just ridiculously annoying.

It's unbelievable that this comes from Adam Wingard, a fantastic director that has produced some standout new films in the horror genre, with the spectacular You're Next and The Guest, both of which anyone would be better off watching than this… Mr. Wingard recently signed on to the live-action adaptation of classic manga series Death Note, and this was a very promising prospect until seeing Blair Witch. It's not all bad, to be fair, even if 99% of it is. There is the odd moment that is well done; there's a good moment where one of the girls finds her hair being used to craft the creepy wooden icons and the resulting fallout, and then there's the finale that plays with an interesting idea at least, even if the execution is sloppy - it at least includes another sequence that delivers a great performance and some genuinely claustrophobic moments.

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

With a film coming out so much later, it would be expected that it was because the filmmaker had a story to tell - something that could improve on the original, something that could be as individual and innovative as The Blair Witch Project. Instead, Blair Witch feels like a cash-in on the original's name for nostalgia alone, overfilled with cheap jump-scares and terrible characters. Whereas the original dealt on subtlety and dread, this is so on-the-nose that it's almost laughable. One of the worst things a horror movie can be is not scary. This is not scary.

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I really didn't like the original, steered clear of its sequel...and thanks to your review, Drew, will stay well clear of this, as well! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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