Blair Witch (2016)
Starring Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez, James Allen McCune, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Corbin Reid
Directed by Adam Wingard
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a HUGE fan of The Blair Witch Project. Hell, while not perfect, to a certain extent I even dig Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. The third Blair Witch film is here, and you know how a lot of movies are described as “this generation’s Blair Witch Project?” Well, this truly IS this generation’s Blair Witch Project.
Blair Witch is a direct sequel to the original 1999 film. Seventeen years have passed since Heather, Mike, and Josh disappeared in the Black Hills Forest of Burkittsville, Maryland. After the discovery of some new footage of the house Heather went missing in hits online, Heather’s brother (McCune) arranges a meeting between himself and the couple responsible for uploading the new footage to find out where it came from. Along for the ride and experience are three of his friends, one of whom is making a documentary about their trip, providing a reason for them all to be sporting small ear cameras.
Together they travel back to the famed sites… Coffin Rock… the infamous creek that Mike kicked the map into nearly two decades ago, etc. It doesn’t take very long for stuff to go sideways, and when it does, it does so in spectacularly frightening fashion.
In the year 2000 when Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released, the Blair Witch fanbase cried foul. It was literally the sequel that nobody wanted. It goes off the rails and never delivers the goods that the original film and even the various stellar TV tie-ins such as “Curse of the Blair Witch” and “The Burkittsville 7” did. As a result it remains one of the more reviled sequels of all time. It seemed as if no one understood how to make a follow-up to the phenom that was the original film. Well, one thing’s for sure… director Adam Wingard and his longtime collaborator, writer Simon Barrett, certainly do; and they’ve done so with hardly any missteps.
Blair Witch only really makes one mistake… it never strays too far from the groundwork laid by the original movie and at times feels like more of a remake that takes advantage of today’s technology than it does a sequel. Given the fact that the second one was so far out of the box in comparison to the original, I’m guessing the decision was made to play the events close to the chest, if only to salvage the fanbase and introduce Elly Kedward to a brand new audience. Make no mistake, though; Blair Witch is very much a sequel in every sense of the word, and at the end of the day it’s the movie we’ve all been hoping for.
Wingard and Barrett definitely bring their own flavor to the world created by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, expanding upon the mythos and everything we thought that we knew while planting a veritable treasure trove of easter eggs within the film for the fans to discover. When things get cooking, the film takes a pretty relentless approach to the scares, and the last act is undeniably intense. The final 20 minutes are home to some of the most claustrophobic and nerve-wrenching moments the horror genre has seen in quite some time. It literally feels like being locked inside of a deranged funhouse with your worst nightmares. The scares come fast and furious, and they do not relent until the very last frame, leaving the audience thoroughly shaken.
I get why the filmmakers stayed on the path paved by the original film, but since the groundwork has been laid (or relaid, for that matter), I’m also more eager to see what Wingard and Barrett could do now that the franchise has been retooled and reintroduced. The Blair Witch is back… and now that she’s here, it’s time for things to be a little less safe and a lot more dangerous.
Oh, and for those of you who complained that in the original we never saw the witch, I can now confirm that you d…
Elly, I have missed you so. Welcome home.