Film Review: Scary, Loud “Blair Witch” Lacks Inventiveness of Original

By Editor September 15, 2016 07:00

By Anthony Hernandez

While it is significantly more adept, and far scarier than the ill-conceived and poorly executed sequel Book of Shadows – this (reboot disguised as a) sequel; still inevitably buckles under the weight of the franchise and cannot hold a candle to the terrifying inventiveness that firmly plants the original in the line of classic horror. Blair Witch is just a louder, rarely inventive version of what we’ve already seen.

The story follows James and a group of his college friends as they venture into the Black Hills Forest of Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his sister, Heather. Video evidence suggests that her disappearance is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. While at first the group is high-spirited; but as the night seems to go on endlessly, the group is visited by a malevolent presence – and is lead down a path of nightmares. And so on.

With 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, the film – made on an incredibly meager budget of around $40,000– went on to be a blockbuster smash, and injected a new genre of horror into the mainstream. Now, it can be argued that the “found footage” genre already existed (think 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust) – but it was The Blair Witch Project that made it what it is today. Yet, like most horror films of today, its originality has turned into farce be being subjected to “franchising” and what could be an endless string of bad sequels.

This Blair Witch failed to capture anything that made the original such a disturbing experience. Subtlety and dread is replaced with loud sound effects, big jump scares, and sometimes overly-ambitious visual effects. While there are moments of fantastically creepy imagery, and some sequences of dark, visceral horror – it feels like a gimmick in the end. Just because it made the original scary doesn’t necessarily it means it’s going to work here; and much of that blame falls on the director Adam Wingard, whose film credits include mostly lackluster attempts at horror (like the abomination that was V/H/S).

That being said – the cast of unknowns does a mostly solid job of giving us someone to root for, and their reactions to all the creepy set-ups were realistic and sometimes wrenching. The house in the third act was probably one of the best “haunted houses” put on screen – though some of the scary bits were ruined by terrible choices made by our heroes. While the most “original” part of the film, (and credit must be given to a few other sequences) involved a voodoo doll… but we’ll just leave it at that.

Inevitably though, the sum of the scares do not add up to a fully realized movie-going experience, and challenges very little in the genre that the original practically created.

Blair Witch

Run Time: 89 minutes

Rated R for language, terror and some disturbing images

Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reed, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

By Editor September 15, 2016 07:00

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