Blair Witch (2016) – Film Review


Epileptics and claustrophobic types, be warned!

If you’ve seen the trailer for this film—or remember the original from 1999—you should know what you’re getting into…but even I got a little nauseous watching this one.

I don’t hold horror films to any kind of standard nowadays, and I wanted to get that out there before I start to tear at this film. Still, though, there’s stuff with this sequel-slash-reboot that I wanted to see that…just weren’t there.

The filmmakers had a chance to create real, sympathetic characters here, due to the fact that the entire premise of this film was riding on the events of the first. The group that went into the woods this time had a shot at being people we cared about (with the “fresh start” that this new film offered), whereas the whole first film was just us watching these people get lost and, presumably, slaughtered in the forest. Unfortunately, though, this movie played out more like fan fiction of The Blair Witch Project than a film of its own. That said, other than a few call-outs to the original, and one of our heroes being the brother of the vanished Heather Donahue, this film could’ve easily stayed something of its own. Maybe I would’ve even enjoyed it more, if it was.

When this film was first announced, it was marketed as a stand-alone project, known as The Woods. It was only later, when a full trailer was made public, that the filmmakers first said it would be a continuation of the Blair Witch saga. I had a bunch of questions I wanted answered, like:

…What happened to Heather and the others from the first film?

…What is this “Blair Witch”, and what does she/it look like?

…How and why does it operate in the woods after all this time?

Now that I’ve seen it, I have suggestions as to where it could be tweaked and returned back it its original, independent status, instead of acting like the comeback kid of a long-time favorite “found footage” movie.

There’s no real story here, other than the catch-up that takes place in the opening scenes—discussing the original footage, hero James’s relationship to Heather, and a recap of the legend of the Blair Witch. A lot of the typical horror tropes are present, and no new territory is explored, as the same formula of the original was followed, almost to the letter. The actual witch (rather, what we see of it) is disappointing—the Cloverfield reveal was more satisfying. Ear-splitting screams, heavy, on-camera breathing, and myriad jump scares do not a good horror film make…

This is definitely a stay-at-home movie, because of the reasons listed above. At least there, one can control the TV volume—or altogether turn the film off. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t cover my ears in some of the louder moments…and they were in abundance.

I’m sad to say that this anticipated Blair Witch follow-up gets a lowly */**** from me. If you want to see this one, wait for it to come to Family Video in a few months and rent it for $2.

Next review: The Birth of a Nation (2016)

Written by Evan Kern

Just a twenty-something filmie trudging through adulthood. Taking it day by day, movie by movie. Words are life...

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