For the Movie Bears Podcast full review of ‘Blair Witch,’ check out the video below. Read on for our mini-review!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or a mysteriously placed pile of them), you’re aware of the film and the resulting phenomena related to ‘The Blair Witch Project.’ Back in 1999, the film established itself as one of the most important films of the era as it revitalized the found footage genre, a genre which is still alive and thriving to this day. It also radicalized the way films market themselves, as it was one of the first films to utilize viral internet marketing to create buzz well in advance of the film’s release date.
Enter ‘Blair Witch,’ the 2016 sequel which features a new batch of filmmakers lost in the woods, experiencing many of the same supernatural occurrences, as they document their search for Heather from the first film. As unfair as it may be, it is impossible to isolate the legacy of the franchise and judge the new film on its own merits. ‘Blair Witch’ is certainly an enjoyable film, not without its flaws, but otherwise an enjoyable experience. However, when compared to the importance of the original film, it falls flat, and runs the risk of being forgotten about entirely within a year’s time.
This is particularly unfortunate, as director Adam Wingard (‘The Guest,’ ‘You’re Next’) is one of the most fresh voices in horror/thriller filmmaking, and the incredible effort he puts in here will likely go unnoticed. Wingard recognizes that the supernatural elements and core structure of the original film are vital to the story, and revisits each of them through the course of ‘Blair Witch.’ While it would be easy to say that the film is nothing more than a remake of the original, an argument that is justified in many ways, it is the small touches that bring ‘Blair Witch’ to life. Present are the same stick totems, the stone circles, the disorienting time effects, and the ‘standing in the corner’ motif, but each of these is fleshed out and expanded in one way or another.
Part of the problem with ‘Blair Witch,’ then, falls in the characters. Compared to Heather, Mike, and Josh from the original film, the new characters are mostly forgettable and underwhelming. This isn’t a sly stab at the actors; no, they perform their roles adequately. The characters as written feel cliche and one-note, which severely impacts the investment we have in whether they live or die. The exception to this complaint comes in a pair of locals who guide the filmmakers through the woods, Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry). They make for a bizarre and intriguing duo, and the film would have been stronger had their roles carried more screen time.
Do we recommend ‘Blair Witch?’ Yes, but with a very, very important caveat: this film will not meet any expectations you might have been carrying with you since 1999. If there was a way we could look at it without the shadow of the original film looming over it, this would be a delightful, enjoyable-if-disposable horror flick. If you can strip yourself of the bulk of these expectations, you may be able to enjoy this film as more than just ‘The Blair Witch Project’ with a bigger budget.
Written by Will Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast