Blair Witch Review

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The Blair Witch Project cemented its place in cinematic history as the godfather of modern found footage horror. With a budget of $60,000, it generated $140 million dollars at the box office, and ever since then Hollywood has been enthusiastic in developing these low risk/high reward horror films. Unfortunately, we have not seen a proper Blair Witch film since 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. But what was originally believed to be The Woods turned out to be a semi-reboot/sequel to The Blair Witch Project, titled Blair Witch. Does Blair Witch effectively bring the Blair Witch back into the world or does it end up being a massive failure like Book of Shadows?

Thankfully, Blair Witch is an effectively entertaining horror film that exponentially surpasses the terrible Book of Shadows sequel. Although Blair Witch isn’t as original or inventive as its classic predecessor, it’s still one hell of a scary film.

Blair Witch follows four college kids as they investigate the disappearance of James’ (James Allen McCune) sister Heather — the same Heather as the first film. After viewing a YouTube clip that resembles his sister, James and his group of close friends travel to Burkittsville, Maryland to find out what happened to her.

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Let me be clear, Blair Witch will scare the sh*t out of you and will mess with your head. Adam Wingard (V/H/S) has a penchant for horror and is able to bring all that experience into newer and more frightening territory. Visually, Wingard uses a variety of jump scare tactics in order to scare the audience. However, being the devious man that he is these cues doesn’t necessarily mean that a jump scare is going to happen. It’s this playful unexpectedness that will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout most of the film.

Wingard doesn’t just use creepy visuals to instill fear in audiences. He also uses sound design to mess with the viewers too. Every snap, crackle, and boom brings a sense of dread for these characters and in turn for the audience as well. You become one with the characters and their fear becomes your fear because Wingard uses first-person point-of-view devices in order to give audiences a more immersive experience.

It also helps that screenwriter Simon Barrett wrote these characters to be as relatable as possible. Their reactions to the crazy events in the film is how any normal person would react. In addition, these characters aren’t your typical horror film fodder, they are prepared for anything that might happen on their journey deep in the woods. If you really think about it, in this technological age, it’s very hard to get lost with GPS easily accessible. Unfortunately, as Mike Tyson so eloquently said, “everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.” Boy, does the Blair Witch ever punch back. With The Blair Witch Project, you get only a sample of the Blair Witch’s power. Here, you get the full course meal. Admittedly, there are a few instances where you just shake your head at the stupidity of characters but those are very rare occurrences.

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Sadly, there isn’t much depth to the story that Barrett and Wingard are trying to tell. It barely expands on the Blair Witch lore and there isn’t much of an arc for these characters. It seems as if the sole purpose of Blair Witch wasn’t to innovate or break the mold but to reacquaint audiences with the Blair Witch and frighten them in the process.

There also seems to be a lack of naturalism in the way the cast portrayed their characters on screen. Although The Blair Witch Project isn’t really a scary film, the gimmick that Project really happened was what made Project a scary experience. What made that work was the naturalistic portrayals of the three characters in the film. That is what seems to be lacking in Blair Witch as every scene looks to be set up instead of happening in an organic way. Yet, somehow, James Allen McCune (James), Callie Hernandez (Lisa), Corbin Reid (Ashley), Brandon Scott (Peter), Wes Robinson (Lane), and Valorie Curry (Talia) are still able to charm us with the main group’s close friendship and the film’s humor.

Overall, Blair Witch is the sequel we should’ve had back in 2000 instead of the terrible sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Blair Witch is able to properly connect Project and still stand on its own as its own film. The film won’t necessarily break the wheel or change the found footage genre, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that Blair Witch is still a frightening film. One thing’s for sure: I’ll never go camping in the woods anytime soon.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
4-Atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1294 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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