DIRECTOR: Adam Wingard
WRITER: Simon Barrett
James Allen McCune
James and a group of friends who are offering emotional support decide to head into the Burkittsville forest in hopes of finding his missing sister Heather. He believes that Heather may still be alive after footage is found and uploaded to YouTube of a woman who vanished in the same forest in which Heather and her two friends vanished from back in the late nineties. The woods is believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
It's been roughly seventeen years since I have witnessed the original 'The Blair Witch Project.' I feel like the original is a movie you don't watch but you get to witness once as a harrowing moviegoing experience. I still remember being thirteen years old and watching the movie with a group of friends. All the hype that had surrounded the film ended up being much scarier than the final product. I was one of the kids that bought into this being real. The film had its moments, but I remember finding the characters insufferable. Maybe a rewatch of the original will get a different reception now.
Like the original film, I thought the marketing for the latest Blair Witch was actually pretty smart. The film debuted initially as 'The Woods', and I was none the wiser that the film would be suddenly revealed to the world as the third Blair Witch film. I think they did well in keeping this whole production under wraps for so long. While not as groundbreaking as the marketing for the original, they still managed to surprise me which is a rarity in film today. If it's not revealed by paparazzi set photos, it's leaked in casting news or onto the internet.
Blair Witch is the third film in the series but never brings up the events of Blair Witch 2: Book Of Shadows. The latest film follows on from the events of the first movie. I think Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard have crafted a decent enough story that fits well within the series. They have managed to avoid the fallout of the widely panned "Book Of Shadows" and given us a film that is directly connected to the original while adding a current spin to the story and mythology. Does it always work? No. But it's not the worse thing to happen to the series.
Going into a movie like Blair Witch, the one thing I wanted more than anything from this film was for it to scare me silly. Blair Witch takes around fifty minutes of building up the characters before they start delivering on the thrills and chills. The last fifteen minutes of the film is where the film drives home the tension. I was pretty unnerved for the entire third act. One thing that annoyed me throughout was the need for the overused 'jump scares' in the earlier scenes. I had, had enough of having characters suddenly jump into frame and a loud noise happening to try to catch the audience off guard. It felt cheap.
When it comes to the character development, I enjoyed the two lead performances from both James Allen McCune and Callie Hernandez. Minus the hints at a possible budding romance, I thought they did great with their roles. Callie Hernandez is a fantastic actress and the best thing about this film. The rest of the cast got on my nerves. The two other couples in the movie were grating. I could have done without the constant screaming. While they do an adequate job of building up the characters, the majority of them were almost unbearable, so I was happy to see them die.
The sound design of Blair Witch is fantastic. Every single branch cracking or footstep on the forest floor sounded extraordinary. The sound design in the film did wonders regarding keeping me on the edge of my seat all during the third act. Visually, I think Adam Wingard has also crafted a gorgeous looking movie. You'll no doubt see a lot of shaky-cam in the movie, but the scenes with the drone were a neat touch to the film that gave it a little more visual flair. I like the update in technology.
I think what the Blair Witch did well with the story was adding more to the legend of Blair Witch. Also getting to see glimpses of what may have killed the original cast was a nice little touch. Things that did raise more questions were the final moments in the dilapidated house. They touch on the witch being possibly extraterrestrial but never delve deep into it which really took me out of the film. I'd have preferred this go the supernatural route over adding what appears to be a sci-fi twist to the mythology.
We also have moments in the film that hint at possible extraterrestrial life. I thought that it may be the time shifts that were playing with the day and night but when the daylight rises, and you can see the lights shine through the old house in the woods. It almost seemed alien in nature. I found this to be a massive issue as again, the movie never explains it. They throw in all this new mythology and we never get one single answer to it. Even on a repeated viewing, it doesn't make much sense.
Lastly, other elements that are left up to interpretation or thrown into the mythology of the Blair Witch and never explained are the shifts in time once entering the woods. While I liked the element and having the characters never knowing what time it is or if it's ever gonna become daylight again, I thought they could've explained why the movie played with time and seasons. I feel this could be explained in further films if they ever decide to pursue more sequels.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A bloody foot wound.
- Something is shown moving inside a wound.
- Someone is dragged off camera.
- Someone is snapped in half.
- An infected pus-filled wound.
- Someone falls from a tree and is dragged off.
- Someone is stabbed in the throat.
After seventeen years, Blair Witch finally returns with mixed results. The film has an incredibly creepy third act, some incredible sound design, a great performance from Callie Hernandez and adds some nice new additions to the Blair Witch mythology. The issue, however, with Blair Witch is that it raises more questions than answers, a vast majority of the characters are grating, and I found myself not caring about them. The movie has a habit of using cheap jump scares early on. On a repeat viewing, sadly my opinion hasn't changed.