Blair Witch (2016)

When will people learn… Don’t fuck with the originals.

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friend’s head to the Black Hills forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.

Where to start… Well I wish we got The Woods instead of Blair Witch. The greatest surprise from this film actually comes not from the film itself, rather the marketing stunt revealing the true identity of The Woods (after posters and trailers) to be Blair Witch. The official sequel to the 1999 cult classic, The Blair Witch Project. BOOM! MINDBLOWN!

However, it was unfortunate nosedive for Adam Wingard (Director) and Simon Barrett (Writer), which is hard to believe us the creative duo previously delivered You’re Next (2011) and The Guest (2014) which were two films so full of mystery, intrigue, atmosphere and imagination.

It’s hardly fair to compare this film to one of the greatest horrors of all time, but that’s the risk when attempting to renew a classic for a new generation. The Blair Witch Project had such a veneer of authenticity, from the look of the forest, to the flowing dialogue. There was a magical spookiness to the original, it didn’t look, sound or operate like you average movie. It was unscripted pandemonium!

The problem with the Blair Witch is that it can’t works out whether it wants to stay with the original or stray into new territory. It basically feels like a rehash of the original but much louder and lamer whilst featuring go pros and drones. The scares aren’t new, the characters are even self aware of this, as main girl Lisa groans after two tiring jump scare attempts (seconds apart) and says what we all are thinking “I wish people would stop doing that” ….

Ahh yeah me too hun

Not only is the story caught between old vs new, so too is the cinematography. Blair Witch breaks its own rule of being a found footage genre and contains far too much coverage, there are master shots, reverses, close ups, aerials, the list goes on. The images are far too crisp to evoke any amateur authenticity, it’s just looks like your typical studio project.

The soundtrack is the worst thing about the film. It literally booms throughout. It was so distracting at times I found it hard to follow the story, every jump scare would be accompanied by the loudest bangs, clashes and crashes. Was this happening in the world of our characters? Or was it just for us audience members? It was honestly one of the nosiest films I’ve seen, the soundtrack is pure cacophony.

The brilliance of The Blair Witch Project is that it devotes time to the build up and limits the gut wrenching finale to just mere minutes of horrific stress. Here we have the same run time, but with twice as many characters. The original trio may not have been the greatest actors, but they didn’t need to be… that was the point. Here we have a very professional looking cast who are all very clearly “acting”, none of them appear genuine and it all just felt a little too rehearsed.

What could have potentially been an innovative third act it was executed poorly and was a total missed opportunity. Without going into too much detail the final act delves into concepts of time loops, second dimensions, physically altering space and time but it goes unexplored and instead time is wasted revealing the mystery of the physical appearance of the witch.

The best thing this film did is elicit memories of a far superior film, I enjoyed the respectful homage to the original with signature imagery of stick men and piles of rocks. However, it just doesn’t hold the same kind of power as the original.

Like I said before maybe it’s unfair to hold a new Blair Witch to the standards of the old Blair Witch but this noisy reboot sacrifices the suggestive power of the original. Blair Witch is the perfect example of bigger not meaning better and don’t EVEN get me started on the Lane character.

4.0 / 10

“You really think your sister could be out here after all these years?”


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