blair witch review

‘Blair Witch’ Review

In Movies by Steve Magill0 Comments

The Blair Witch Project is one of those movies that has an established place in the annals of horror and to a lesser degree in film history. While not the creator of the found footage genre (Cannibal Holocaust probably earns that credit) it did bring it into mainstream use so that we have horror movies like Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield REC or VHS and in broader genre movies such as Chronicle or Project X. It is also considered by many to have been the first viral internet phenomenon used to promote a movie.

Yet for me is was the fears it tapped into. A shoe-string budget meant the scares were implied, suggested and was more about the loss of one’s sanity as they were overcome with fear. Returning to the source material after a long break seems like a great idea and for the large part The Blair Witch succeeds in scaring us in the most brutal of ways, yet in a year of stellar scary movies, how will it stack up? Find out in our review.

James Donahue’s older sister Heather went missing in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while investigating the legend of the Blair Witch. Most believe her dead but when a video is posted online of a possible sighting, he and a group of his friends go into the woods hoping to find her. One of his friends Lisa is a young documentary filmmaker whose interest is not simply interested into her friend’s search but also the legends of the Blair Witch. When they become lost it soon becomes clear that the legend might actually have some truth in it.

As a found footage film the Blair Witch isn’t the most subtle of films much like its counterparts. It isn’t really attempting to be either. One gets the impression this is a rickety Roller coaster more than a creeping thriller. This is a film about being lost, claustrophobia, the dark and being alone. It’s about what’s happening behind you or just beyond the reach of light from your torch. It will make you jump and cling to the arm rest but it might not stay with you with the lingering effects. It feels a little primal and is all the more fun for it.

It’s probably a point of difference from the first one. My personal memory was a terrifying movie but others found it boring or were completely lost as to what people actually found scary. The Blair Witch doesn’t allow itself to misinterpreted, it is more brutal and intense. Truth be told I miss that a little but it may mean that the film has broader appeal. Stick figures or piles of rocks or the rustling of tents are now replaced with the more overt. Sticks figures are now clearly not just creepy but evidence of the impossible and tents are flung into the air. It’s different but you won’t miss what they’re going for this time.

It’s not the only difference however from the original. In the time that has passed technology has moved along. GPS, CB radios, blue tooth cameras and drones all make for a more connected and plausible reason for filming. The Bluetooth cameras, for example, are on a headset. A headset with a torch and a pain to take off, an alarm that says it one time in the morning when it’s dark outside. It’s a fascinating pondering how things have changed over the years.

There, of course, are new twists on the old legend. The tale of a woman condemned to die as a witch and of Rustin Parr the man who was compelled by her are all backdrop. The loss of time, the perpetual darkness, the destruction of trees, the flashing of bright lights and infection of wounds are all new. They seem clever and atmospheric at first but on reflection don’t actually have explanations. It’s important to maybe distinguish between what is deliberately left unanswered and what is a matter of hoping the audience doesn’t notice. But either way, there is frustration there.

The notion of nostalgia is an interesting topic too. Rustin Parr’s house where the finale of the first film takes place is the same location for this film’s finale, there are the aforementioned stick figures, the legacy of the original missing documentaries among other things. I wonder if any of this actually matters to a modern audience, if The Blair Witch Project is still a film people watch or whether it’s a relic of the past, fondly remembered but rarely rewatched. These elements made me feel at home in this new movie but nostalgia may be wasted. This is not a Star Wars or a Ghostbusters. These older elements also might distract for a film trying to do its own thing, that the film doesn’t explain them means at least time isn’t wasted on exposition.

It’s probably a point of difference from the first one. My personal memory was a terrifying movie but others found it boring or were completely lost as to what people actually found scary. The Blair Witch doesn’t allow itself to misinterpreted, it is more brutal and intense. Truth be told I miss that a little but it may mean that the film has broader appeal. Stick figures or piles of rocks or the rustling of tents are now replaced with the more overt. Sticks figures are now clearly not just creepy but evidence of the impossible and tents are flung into the air. It’s different but you won’t miss what they’re going for this time.

It’s not the only difference however from the original. In the time that has passed technology has moved along. GPS, CB radios, blue tooth cameras and drones all make for a more connected and plausible reason for filming. The Bluetooth cameras, for example, are on a headset. A headset with a torch and a pain to take off, an alarm that says it one time in the morning when it’s dark outside. It’s a fascinating pondering how things have changed over the years.

There, of course, are new twists on the old legend. The tale of a woman condemned to die as a witch and of Rustin Parr the man who was compelled by her are all backdrop. The loss of time, the perpetual darkness, the destruction of trees, the flashing of bright lights and infection of wounds are all new. They seem clever and atmospheric at first but on reflection don’t actually have explanations. It’s important to maybe distinguish between what is deliberately left unanswered and what is a matter of hoping the audience doesn’t notice. But either way, there is frustration there.

The notion of nostalgia is an interesting topic too. Rustin Parr’s house where the finale of the first film takes place is the same location for this film”s finale, there are the aforementioned stick figures, the legacy of the original missing documentaries among other things. I wonder if any of this actually matters to a modern audience, if The Blair Witch Project is still a film people watch or whether it’s a relic of the past, fondly remembered but rarely rewatched. These elements made me feel at home in this new movie but nostalgia may be wasted. This is not a Star Wars or a Ghostbusters. These older elements also might distract for a film trying to do its own thing, that the film doesn’t explain them means at least time isn’t wasted on exposition

Blair Witch Review Cheat Sheet

The Blair Witch may not be as subtle or be destined for instant classic status as its predecessor but it is a fun and efficient thrill ride with plenty of scares with some clever revisions on an old formula. It’s exciting for those who like their horror a bit more bombastic whilst slavish reminders of the previous film distract and doesn’t elicit the favourable nostalgic reaction probably because they are never explained well. A good time but not quite with the staying power of the original.

+ Efficient scares make for fun time.

+ New twists on the lore and the way the movie is filmed.

– Lots of the ”new” lore isn’t explained.

– Lacks the subtlety of the first film.