Film Review: “Blair Witch” (2016)

“Blair Witch” (2016)


Horror/Found Footage

Running Time: 99 minutes

Director: Adam Wingard

Featuring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

“There’s something evil hiding in the woods.”

Were we really waiting for another Blair Witch sequel? On the evidence presented it turns out we were – and it lives up to the hype of the original, in fact it may even surpass it.

This new sequel was filmed under a false name, “The Woods”, and it is only in the past few months the true title was revealed and the early screenings purported to be a revelation for the long dead series, killed off by the Joe Berlinger directed “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” (2000), a movie that was rushed into production and eventually taken away from the award winning director.

This film written and directed by Simon Barrett and his longtime collabortator Adam Wingard – two guys with a pretty decent film pedigree. This partnership had helped spear head a new wave of horror films, and amongst them are there very own “A Horrible Way to Die” (2010), the very good “You’re Next” (2011) and the excellent box office hit “The Guest” (2014). If you have not seen this films go and get them and watch them, like many horror writer/directors there films get better as time goes by and will do as their output increases.

So, it was with some trepidation that I saw their names on the credits of this film – it seems on the surface a step back to make a sequel to another persons work, with that work seemingly irrelevant in today’s horror genre. However, what they have been able to do is take a (now) time worn sub genre, the found footage film, and bring a new millennial twist to it and perhaps reinvigorating it for a new generation. They have taken new technology, drones, micro cams and other bits and used them to propel the reason why someone might record absolutely everything – it’s just easier and less of a hassle now.

This sequel is set twenty years after the first and revolves around another found video, this time on YouTube, it seems to show something (watching it in the cinemas I was not sure what I was looking at) and is interpreted as Heather still alive (from the first Blair Witch) by her brother, James, who has never recovered from her loss – this sets him on a course to the infamous location of the first movie, with three friends and two Burkittsville locals who found and uploaded the footage.

The film quickly takes a nasty turn for all involved and really the least said the better, as with the first film the secret is not knowing what happens and experiencing it as freshly as possible. Whilst we are talking about it I would also avoid the trailer as this does spoil a few scenes, which I was waiting on throughout, the film and it was a little distracting knowing they were coming. I am a big fan of what the Paranormal Activity series did and that was create trailers with footage not in the movie.

I love horror films and was waiting for this movie to be released and I had a really great time watching it. There are just enough callbacks from the original film to recreate that singular atmosphere, whilst injecting more story and possibly better characters. The motivation for being in the forest is clear, however some of the decisions by the characters is a little hard to fully believe and invest in – there is also an over reliance on jump scares, which is one of the cheapest tricks in the horror genre. The characters themselves are all formed by their relationship to the main character, James – who along with his documentarian friends are the main characters in this story. There is even quite a bit of humor which seems narratively natural and not forced – this was a great juxtaposition to what was to happen to them later.

You don’t have to watch the original first as that story is covered off here – in fact I recommend going into this one cold as there are some differences in location which can be jarring if you have seen the original recently.

All in all I do recommend this film and it seems 2016 is the year of horror movies and this is the second sequel this year after “The Conjuring 2” which lives up to the original – go see with a friend and see at night to add to the atmosphere!

If you like this watch:

“The Last Broadcast” (1998)

“WER” (2013)

“Afflicted” (2013”

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