Adam Wingard, director of some of my favourite films over the last few years including You’re Next and The Guest, managed to achieve the impossible this year and actually keep film news under wraps. What was being touted as The Woods was actually revealed to be Blair Witch only weeks before its release. In a time when we generally know EVERYTHING about a new release months (and months, and months…) before release, this was no mean feat and left the perfect amount of time for excitement to build and not be completely overtaken by scepticism.
The Blair Witch Project has been one of my favourite horror movies since I first saw it on Halloween night back in 1999. I was just young enough to be sucked into the but it might be true marketing and loved everything from The Curse of The Blair Witch mockumentary to that original found footage style. My bus home broke down that night and I had to walk home through the woods which only heightened how effective that movie was (aye, I was terrified but it was such good fun).
The reality is, an addition to the Blair Witch series can’t reach the heights of the original. That unexpected delivery and stark ending are effects that can’t really be recreated now that we’ve basically seen everything. Wingard is in a difficult position before he even starts.
The story is pretty simple – a video surfaces online which appears to contain footage of James’ sister Heather, who disappeared following the events of the first film. James decides to head deep into the Maryland woods in the hope of finding his sibling, or at least some indication of what happened to her. Along for the ride are best pal Peter and college filmmaker Lisa who has more than enough tech at hand to document proceedings from every angle.
It doesn’t take long at all for things to get witchy, the woods to grow completely insurmountable and the iconic stick figures to start appearing.
Blair Witch isn’t as atmospheric as Project and doesn’t build its tension as effectively. The characters are a bit one-dimensional and the story slightly loose. Where the film is best is in the little details. Look for subtleties in time, location and footage for the intrigue and ignore the bangs, crashes and jump cuts.
It’s not perfect, and definitely not one of the scariest movies ever made. It can’t touch the original, but Blair Witch is fast-paced, fun and will leave you digging out that old DVD for a re-watch of THE classic found footage horror.
What did you think of Blair Witch? How does it measure up to the original? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below.