Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson; Valorie Curry.
The creators of the original film, The Blair Witch Project (1999), and now executive producers of Blair Witch, Myrick, Sanchez and Hale wanted the sequel to be true to the 18th century myth of Elly Kedward – the woman accused by the children of Blair of being a witch.
Left to die of exposure in the woods of Maryland, Elly disappears without a trace. When the people of the town begin to disappear, starting with the children who made the accusation, the killing, the missing, the myth of the Blair Witch begins.
No-one can accuse director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, V/H/S and V/H/S2) and writer Simon Barrett (once again collaborating with Wingard on their 9th feature film, including V/H/S and V/H/S/2) of wavering from the original concept. Blair Witch, like the original Blair Witch Project, is also made up of video and images from the found footage of missing documentary makers.
James (James Allen McCune) is the brother of Heather, who is one of the three characters who go missing in the original. Heading back to the Black Hills Forest, James sets off with his good friends and documentors, Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Peter (Brandon Scott) to try to find his sister.
Does James really believe that his sister is still alive? This question amongst many other red herrings go unanswered.
Yes, there are some very weird happenings, but the characters don’t seem to notice or question. To the point where the only explanation could be characters in shock. There’s definite skimming over some scary moments that could have evoked real terror with greater exploration.
It’s difficult to review Blair Witch without comparison to the original. It’s also another ‘lost in the woods’ scenario where the darkness, rain and the weird noises of the woods seem determined to make the search for James’ sister difficult.
A noted difference is the addition of two locals, Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry, who you’ll recognize from The Following) giving the film another dimension. I was never sure what they were going to do. And in this respect the tension was allowed space to develop.
The quality of the camera work is far better and easier to watch here.
But I felt there was a lack of imagination, a lost opportunity to really ramp up the terror by giving meaning to the scary bits rather than just the shock factor: the terror didn’t resonate.
The original had the benefit of surprise as the concept of basing a film on ‘found footage’ hadn’t been done before. Here, I was expecting more of the myth so was disappointed as the scary bits weren’t enough.
Honestly, the 2nd Blair Witch, Book of Shadows (2000), had a better story-line.
For those who haven’t seen the original, Blair Witch could easily be watched without need of introduction. And the house was scary and the camera work was well done.
But I think this was a superficial scare with a lost opportunity to really ramp up the depth of terror.
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