Blair Witch (2016) Review

blair-witchThe sequel to the 1999 hit The Blair Witch Project follows the younger brother of Heather from the first film. After receiving footage of what he believes is his sister, still alive, he and his friend journey into the Black Hills woods in hopes of finding her. Along with a couple of locals, the group finds themselves hunted by the same entity that befell the group from the first film.

Like the first film, Blair Witch is all in documentary/found-footage style. In this day and age, that comes as no surprise since a majority of horror films these days follow that mode. Only this time, the technology is up to date and a drone is thrown in. The story itself follows the same path as the original film in which the group wanders into the woods, discusses the Blair Witch legend, and eventually begin to hear and witness strange occurrences. Don’t let the similar storyline as the first discourage you, it’s not a remake, it is a direct sequel to the first film. And let’s be honest, you can’t really change much with the story in terms of set-up without changing the entire story in general. The first act is set-up well giving us a pretty likable set of leads, though the two locals were just plain obnoxious (or maybe they just weren’t established well-enough). Though unlike the first film, this one jumps into its events very quick. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not entirely a good thing either. The first one succeeded in building itself up in very subtle occurrences that gives us the creeps, but before that it set up the paranoia of being lost in the woods and how it is affected our characters. In this one, it helps to have the events start early enough to set the stage for things to come. And at first it does this well, but eventually it becomes the same exact type of found footage horror film we’ve been exposed to for years. There are loud sounds (louder than average), and very annoying jump scares, with only a couple of effective ones. I get that they wanted to make the Witch more physical, but they got a little too carried away. It almost seemed like there was some large monster in the woods instead of a supernatural witch. Examples being large trees being barged through and knocked over, and what could sound like loud footsteps. Had they made some of the scares more subtle or at the most, scattered with a couple of major ones. A scene involving a tent was extremely effective. From that point with the tent, and throughout the final act is pure intensity, especially when it comes to the return of the Rustin Parr house. In terms of story, it does a fine job of adding to mythology of the Blair Witch, and making good use of it by the end. I’m also a sucker for horror films set in the woods, so like the first film, I really loved the use of it in this one. But as the technology goes, it felt a little too all over the place and not as simplistic as the camera use in the first film. Maybe that’s just me being nit-picky, but the over-abundance of cameras here was a little over-whelming and just too familiar for my taste.

In terms of acting, apart from the two local characters, the leads do a fine job, none really standing out more than the other. It would help if these characters were fleshed out a bit more just to give the actors more time to shine.

In a nutshell, Blair Witch is a good sequel to the original, but it is very much a film made for modern audiences who are used to the found-footage genre in today’s horror and love it. Especially with the loud jump scares and various physicality of the supernatural. Hardcore fans of the original won’t love this film as much because everything is amped. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. This film could have been toned down a little bit more and it honestly would have made it a difference and more enjoyable. But the final act is when shit really hits the fan and makes up for it.

3/5

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