Director: Adam Wingard
Running Time: 89 Minutes
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.“
– Macbeth, Act 4; Scene 1; Lines 44-45
More than 20 years after Heather’s disappearance in the woods near Burkittsville, a video related to her disappearance surfaces online. Her brother, James (James Allen McCune), believes the recording to be authentic. He holds hope that his sister is still alive somewhere in the woods, and promptly sets out with some upgraded tech and three friends. Their first port of call is to visit the guy who uploaded the video. Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry) convince James that the video is the real deal and that they can lead the group of ill-prepared explorers to the spot where they found it.
As soon as night falls on the first day, strange things start to happen, but is it all an elaborate ruse or is the group royally fucked?
Performances & Special Effects
On the whole this was not badly acted. I must just say that I really enjoyed Callie Hernandez‘s (as Lisa) performance. Her anxiety riddled panic toward the end of the film was palpable. The character was well written and perfectly executed. Everyone else was pretty forgettable but not terrible. There were the usual predictable tropes (e.g. irrational brother, easily panicked Barbie, dodgy guide, etc.)
The movie took a while to start, meaning that seemingly paranormal things happen slowly and it takes about a full hour before the shit really starts hitting the fan. Once it does though, the special effects are fantastic. There is a scene (seen in the trailer as well) where Ashley (Corbin Reid) snaps one of the stick figure in half, causing Talia to snap in half in front of everyone. I was genuinely taken aback by the scene, as it was a surprise, but it was beautifully executed. There are other scenes I could mention but I don’t want to include spoilers!
The problem with creating a sequel for such an iconic film is that it is impossible to please everyone. I appreciate that many of the elements which made The Blair Witch Project groundbreaking, at the time, we kept in Blair Witch. I liked the updated technology but there was still a shaky/found footage feel. Some of the tech seemed to be over the top (i.e. a Bluetooth headset camera with audio and GPS. Really?), especially when these features weren’t used efficiently. The use, though ineffectual, of a drone was a great idea and played well into the hand of the dread factor that comes with a movie like Blair Witch.
I was disappointed that the film took an hour to really get going. I understand that the 60 minute built up was meant to create tension and unease, an element seamlessly executed by its predecessor, however, those 60 minutes were flat and tedious. There was a lot of day drinking, driving and characters generally illustrating how unprepared they were for the wilderness. I also hated the excessive use of jump scares toward the middle of the film. There was a scene, in particular, in the forest where there were about 4 consecutive jump scares in less that 2 minutes. It loses its efficacy if overused.
The twist in the final 10 minutes of the film was subtle, and I feel that the writers and director kept it well hidden. I enjoyed the entire sequence of events in the house, where Heather and her friends ended up in The Blair Witch Project. In this sense, the film comes full circle, yet in others there seemed to be pieces of the film missing. A fair amount of time is spent on Ashley’s injured foot, with successive sound effects making the viewer believe that bones seems to be snapping but this doesn’t amount to much by the end of the film.
Overall, it was fun to watch, if not a little tedious initially. I would definitely recommend it for a group movie night with some friends who are generally easily scared.
My rating: 3½/5
Buy or rent Blair Witch from Amazon.
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