Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barrett
Starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
Review by Jordan
The 1999 release of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’ original Blair Witch Project was preluded by an ingenious marketing campaign, that utilised a widespread susceptibility to misinformation on the internet to create an utterly believable missing persons case accompanied by documentary pieced together through newly ‘found footage.’ Watched with either little cynicism, knowledge of the story other than the introduced legend or when young and impressionable, it was a nerve-rattling experience, conjuring a heavy feeling of isolation and haplessness while its three filmmakers become further lost and antagonised by an unseen force deep in the Burkittsville woods.
Needless to say, there are many members of Generation X carrying fond memories of being tricked/scared senseless by the first trip to Blair, so a belated sequel had a lot to deliver to warrant its existence and intention to introduce the legend to a younger audience, from the marketing through to the implementation of the haunting, decrepit house. Its pleasing then, that with strange thuds in the night, familiar voodoo stick configurations and a relentless escalation of terror towards the finale, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s Blair Witch delivers.
Fooling us into believing it was in fact a mysterious upcoming horror film titled The Woods (with trailers under both this fictitious title and its subsequent reveal showing before Don’t Breathe) was an intelligent strategy to avoid speculation and negative media, with The Woods itself successfully garnering much hype for its intense footage and imagery, as well as the attached names of Wingard and Barrett. You’re Next, V/H/S and The Guest rocketed the pair to genre recognition, but also ensured high expectations now follow them, needing to be either met by way of thrilling scares or defied through an unexpected direction.
Blair Witch commences in a resoundingly fan-friendly fashion, showing itself a true sequel in an era dominated by remakes, reimagining’s and reboots, with fateful footage of the original’s Heather lost and franticly scouring an abandoned house being viewed on YouTube by her younger brother Josh (McCune) and his friends Lisa (Hernandez), Peter (Scott) and Ashley (Reid). An opportunity for either closure or to find his sister for Josh, and a documentary major for Lisa, the quartet decide to meet the Maryland locals who uploaded the footage and venture into the infamous woods on a quest for answers. In an expected case of deja vu though, it doesn’t take long for the legend to reveal itself, and as night falls and the endless darkness descends, the niggling sense of panic supressed by each individual begins to heighten and the surrounding, physiological danger reveals itself to be very present.
After individual encounters with a force once thought paranoia, the ending lends itself to intense speculation; unwrapping many of the moments that have preceded it and even perhaps hinting at a more simultaneous correlation with the events of 1999. The overarching trend is that the powerful evil dismissed by the youths is inescapable… past, present and future.
Above all else, this is a disorientating horror experience that will enthral some and frustrate others. Time and environments are manipulated to instil distress, and the modern cameras jitter and glitch, recording more earthy, menacing audio piercing through the darkness than they do physical occurrences. After the promising opening, the subsequent story does take a while to progress as character interactions take priority, but for anyone with uneasiness regarding body horror or claustrophobia, you’re sure to find the source of many nightmares.
4 pulsating foot wounds out of 5