Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blair Witch (2016): Review




Blair Witch is a 2016 found footage horror film. Directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, Your Next) and starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid and Brandon Scott. The film was known simply as “The Woods” until this July, when it was revealed to be a sequel to The Blair Witch Project (1999).

The film follows James (Allen McCune), who is putting together a crew to go and look for his sister Heather, who was never found following the events of the first film. After being contacted by some locals who claim to have information which may lead them to the mysterious house in the woods, he sets off with girlfriend Lisa (Hernandez) and friends Paul (Scott) and Ashley (Reid). However, soon after entering the woods, the group becomes lost as the locals confess they may have exaggerated their knowledge of the local area. This leads to them being pursued through the woods by the dreaded Blair Witch, culminating in a showdown at the creepy house where the original film’s characters met their demise.

When I first became aware of “The Woods” I thought it appeared an incredibly generic horror movie, despite my appreciation of Adam Wingard’s previous films. Then, when it was revealed to be a Blair Witch sequel, I was intrigued as I have a great affection for the original movie (being the first horror film I saw in the cinema) but, I was wary of that all important word “sequel”. Nowadays, directors are terrified of being perceived as a remake so often masquerade as a sequel/prequel (see 2011’s The Thing) in an attempt to preserve the integrity of their film and, I’m afraid, that’s exactly what’s happened here.

Despite some excellent direction and atmospheric sound design, Blair Witch follows the plot of the original extremely closely failing to take any risks and lacking the subtlety of the original movie. The film is rife with horror clich├ęs, jump scares, plot holes and lazy characterisations such as the useless female character that keeps falling over. Other than the mission to find Heather, the motivations of the characters never really became clear and several sub plots were half baked to say the least, strange objects being pulled out of wounds and the irregular passage of time. Not only were the mysteries in this film left unexplained, the filmmakers also seemed intent on demystifying the franchise by actually showing the Blair Witch, clearly missing the entire point of the original movie.

For every effective scare and authentic found footage moment, there’s a lazy jump scare or a baffling plot decision. Blair Witch commits the cardinal sin of a sequel in not only failing to support its predecessor but actively undermining it. This is a remake of The Blair Witch Project, and a disappointingly by the numbers remake at that and Director Wingard, and writer Simon Barrett, are so much better than this.

** 2 Stars
 
What did you think of the film? Did it copy the original too much?

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