If you happen to be a fan of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s 1999 found-footage horror The Blair Witch Project, then Adam Wingard’s sequel/reboot Blair Witch will feel very familiar.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Blair Witch follows the same beats as its predecessor, as James (the brother of Heather Donahue from The Blair Witch Project) gets together a group of friends to search for his sister after receiving a videotape where she turns up for a brief moment, leading him to hope against hope that she was still alive somewhere in the depths of Maryland’s Black Hills.
This is despite an extensive search for the intrepid explorers, which the movie notes; though the funny thing is, despite having seen The Blair Witch Project I am not entirely sure what happened to her either, though I can say for certain that it wasn’t very good.
There’s a sub-plot about a filmmaker who’s interested in filming James’ search, which while evocative of the first movie is somewhat pointless and goes nowhere in particular.
Things proceed as you’d expect, which is good for moviegoers though not so much for James and his crew, as the force that vanished his sister reaches out to claim him and his friends.
As I mentioned earlier, Blair Witch feels very familiar, though it does differentiate itself in some important ways. For a start, it feels more like an actual movie than what proceeded it. This is important because my biggest problem with The Blair Witch Project–and why I preferred Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2–was that the former felt less like an actual movie than someone’s idea of a movie.
(It’s worth mentioning that watching the frenetic camera movement of Blair Witch initially made me mildly nauseous–though I suspect this had more to do with a lack of sleep the night before).
Money matters, and more often than not a humdrum movie (the only thing that saved the Transformers movies were their giant robot-sized budgets) can be made better–at least visually–with a large production budget. Blair Witch was produced for $5 million, and while that’s probably the catering budget for bigger films it’s still significantly more than the original movie, which cost $60,000 in 1999 dollars (I don’t know what that is in 2016, but I imagine it’s significantly less).
Though what surprised me most was how funny the movie is. Most of the humor was supplied by Peter (Brandon Scott) by the way he reacted to the chaos that unfolded around him.
It’s refreshing to see a character in a horror movie acting (for the most part) like a normal human.
That being said, it wouldn’t be a horror movie if people weren’t willing to venture into places where anyone with a modicum of common sense would fear to tread, but that’s a cliche that is typical for the genre.
Blair Witch isn’t perfect–then again, neither was the movie that inspired it–though what it is is a worthy follow up to one of the most innovative horror movies of it’s time.