The “direct” sequel to The Blair Witch Project has been released almost two decades after the first one terrified audiences.The story ignores the 2000 release and starts off twenty years after the disappearance of the original crew in the 90s, one of whom was Heather Donahue. Refusing to believe she is dead, her brother finds a video on YouTube which he believes features his sister. He tracks down the people who found the footage and convinces them to take him and his friends back to the forrest where the tapes were located. To say anything more would ruin all the plot twists and surprises but I will point out that it’s vital for everyone to pay attention to each detail from the beginning.
As expected, it doesn’t take long for the blair witch (or someone else?) to make its present known and begin terrorising the group.
The creators stick to the same formula and shaky camera style as the first film, though in 1999, the brains behind the original had the advantage of a fantastic make believe marketing using the largely unfamiliar internet. Which further pushed the curiosity of people and the success of the movie. In this day and age the 2016 Blair Witch could not pull of such a stunt, instead it relies on the past hype and keeping everything related to the new movie a secret, which seemed to have worked.
I have to give credit to director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (both from the criminally underrated You’re Next) for respecting the intelligence of audience members by not spoon-feeding the meaning behind each twist and turn throughout the story. They are quickly presented before moving on – leaving it up to the viewers to piece together the massive puzzle.
First half of the movie is quite slow burn as they work on further establishing the mythology of the witch and the woods. The third act is when things start to roll quickly with a lot of familiarity. Between the hysterical acting, glimpses of “something”, use of darkness, and extremely shaky POV camera shots, it all comes together to hand out the biggest final open ended twist.
The movie is let down by the fact that the creaters do stick to the 90s formula which doesn’t have the same impact now as it did back then. Audiences are much more savvy and critical than ever before. I am unsure implied kills and mythical creature will fully satisfy everyone this time around.
While the talent involved captured the right tone for each of their characters, none of them establish a strong enough connection with the viewers, leaving most unconcerned about what they are going through and their future.
As the Blair Witch came to an end, I couldn’t help but feel like this was more of an updated remake of the first one rather than a “direct” sequel. It’s all too similar but then again, judging by what happened to the 2000 sequel, a huge departure from what makes a blair witch film probably wouldn’t have been well received either. None the less, it’s a must see for the fans of the first one and of the genre.
For the tip, please ignore the “scariest movie ever” hype and avoid all spoilers/theories until you’ve seen it.
I rate it 6 out of 10 stars.
Blair Witch is in cinems now.