Blair Witch (Blu-ray/DVD)
Directed by Adam Wingard
Distributed by Lionsgate
When it comes to The Blair Witch Project, I can be considered a MEGA FAN. I mean, just note my usage of not only caps but also the bold tag around “mega fan.” I love this franchise and each film in it for better or worse. I was elated when news broke at this past summer’s San Diego Comic-Con that The Woods was actually Blair Witch, and even more elated that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett were the ones at the reins.
Thus far I’ve seen the film four times… once at Comic-Con, once at a special early screening, once in theaters with a crowd, and now on Blu-ray with the commentary track. I stand by my (mostly) positive review of Blair Witch and think that director Wingard and writer Barrett brought a lot of good stuff to the franchise.
Sadly, the movie didn’t do especially well at the box office. Blair Witch was expected to take in around $20 million for the weekend but managed just $9.7 million. It was playing on 3,121 screens and averaged $3,092 per location. Not phenomenal numbers, but this was kind of an impossible situation. Here’s a franchise that’s been out of the public eye for over a decade. Its fans have all grown older, and I’m willing to bet that the younger crowd barely ever even heard of Elly Kedward. Pile on found footage fatigue, impossible to live up to quotes from some websites, and little to no hype time to get people ready for it; and you kind of have a recipe for disaster.
Would the film have fared better if Lionsgate had been upfront about it being a Blair Witch movie and not something called The Woods earlier? Who knows? We’ll never know unfortunately. But we now have the flick on Blu-ray and DVD so maybe it will find its intended audience.
Then again, there’s also a good chance that its intended audience will be turned off by both Barrett’s and Wingard’s feelings about the film’s reception. More on that in a minute…
The Blu-ray of Blair Witch is home to one of the single most extensive making-of featurettes I’ve ever seen. Entitled Never Ending Night: The Making of Blair Witch, this 6-part documentary delivers even the most minute of details from the story origins, the secretive process everyone would be facing, to the big reveal at the San Diego Comic-Con. “The Reveal” segment even features a surprise cameo from our own Debi Moore, who was just exiting the theater for a quick moment before the festivities commenced.
The only really bad thing about this doc is that it’s paced kind of slowly, but man, is it brimming with info and behind-the-scenes goodness.
Next up is House of Horrors: Exploring the Set, which is easily my favorite of the package. In it we get a look at the painstaking work put into getting the now iconic house to look as it did back in the 90s, a job made much harder by the fact it had to be built from scratch as the original structure burned down long ago. Bravo to everyone who helped bring this monster back to life!
One of the only things missing from the documentary portion of this package is that during the extensive look, they never delve into all the cool easter eggs and surprises they added in for fans of the film. Part of the joy of the Blair Witch universe is the mysterious mythology the filmmakers sprinkled along the way. From the masterful “Curse of the Blair Witch” Syfy special to “The Secret of Esrever,” the hidden things and the back story only added to the fun. Surely Wingard and Barrett would address these things in their commentary track, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
Here’s a hint to Hollywood – NEVER HAVE YOUR FILMMAKERS DO A COMMENTARY TRACK IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEIR FILMS FAIL AT THE BOX OFFICE. I get that it sucks when something you’ve poured your heart and soul into goes south (lord knows I’m more than familiar with these instances), but to verbally take it out on the fans while sarcastically denigrating your own work for 90 minutes isn’t the best route to go. Every other word out of Barrett’s and Wingard’s mouths is along the lines of “Our movie sucked. No one went to see it. Fans hated it. We ruined this. We did that wrong.” You get what I’m saying. They even go off on tangents like, “Yeah, we were gonna talk about the mythology and the easter eggs [i.e., the onscreen location of the original map], but since none of you went to see it, we’re not gonna! Just sit there and wonder.”
Really, guys? So fuck the fans that the movie has! You know, the ones who bought this DVD or Blu-ray; they don’t deserve it because not everyone went to the theater to support your movie? How do you think they will feel listening to your commentary? I’ll tell you… disappointed. Probably even more than you were at the box office returns. This track is so pointlessly negative it nearly made me like the movie even less. Barrett and Wingard spend what should be an informative good time being too hard on themselves, the fans, and everything in-between. I’ve heard of sour grapes, but god damn, guys. Holy shit. Just, holy shit.
At the end of the day, we get a great package for a really good movie that’s only brought down by the filmmakers themselves. Maybe that is the true curse of the Blair Witch.
- Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
- Never Ending Night: The Making of Blair Witch (6-Part Documentary Exclusive to Blu-ray)
– “Primal Fear: Story Origins”
– “Ambiguous Loss: The Cast”
– “P.O.V.: On Location”
– “Trapped in the Time Loop: Editing”
– “Distorted Reality: Music and Sound Design”
– “The Reveal”
- “House of Horrors: Exploring the Set” Featurette