Blair Witch – Review

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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.

The Bye Bye Man – Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2016-09-13 15.36.46.pngI had never heard of Stacy Title’s The Bye Bye Man–or Stacy Title, which doesn’t sound like a real name, for that matter–before yesterday, but it’s a horror movie so it got my attention.

What’s interesting is that it’s from STX Entertainment, who earlier this year released The Boy.

It seems to me that they’re following in the footsteps of Blumhouse Pictures, who are adept at releasing and marketing low-budget horror movies.

It’s a strategy that appears to be working. The Boy–which felt like it was out for no time at all–actually earned just over $64 million worldwide.

Now that’s a not a huge amount of money, relatively speaking, till you take in account that the budget was only $10 million.

That’s a pretty good return for a movie that didn’t exactly kick up a lot of noise at the box office.

The Fog (2005) – Postmortem

Screenshot 2016-08-23 23.05.50.pngAs I have said time and again, I am not fond of remakes.

More often than not they don’t add anything to the original–did we really need to know about Michael Myers difficult upbringing in Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot?–or they add details that seemingly are there just to differentiate them from the original.

The thing is, as far as remarks go, Rupert Wainwright’s remake of The Fog (it doesn’t help that  John Carpenter directed the original) isn’t terrible.

It’s not particularly good, but it’s different enough that you don’t at least hate yourself for wasting an hour and a half that you will never get back.

What works is the whole leprosy subplot–in the original I don’t recall the movie going into huge detail about what William Blake was doing with the gold–but in the reboot the point was to get his people to a place where they could live in peace because they were suffering from leprosy.

He was building a leper colony!  It’s a pretty clever idea that the movie unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of (there’s a scene where one of the ghosts comes in physical contact with a person, and she’s decays like she’s caught leprosy on steroids).

Unfortunately it’s an angle that they don’t deal with again.

They could have also done more innovative things with the fog itself, especially when you take into account that the bulk of it is CGI, but unfortunately they don’t.

It’s a movie full of wasted opportunities–especially compared to the original–but at least you don’t feel your time slipping away like digital fog.


The Abandoned – Review


The Abandoned is a pretty decent horror movie, though you have to be patient with it because the ending isn’t exactly the culmination of everything that came before.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s badly made–it’s not–but it rewards you for paying attention.

And I have to mention the movie’s cinematographer, Zach Galler, There are some
instances that take place in dark spaces, yet you can tell what’s going on the entire time.

And you may think that that’s a easy thing to do, yet if it were every movie would be able to say the same.

The Purge: Election Day – Official Trailer 2

2013’s The Purge was always a guilty pleasure of mine, despite that if you take away the fascinating concept of a 12-hour period once a year in which you’re free kill whomever you want, you’re left with what is a simple home invasion thriller.

With the 2014 sequel, The Purge: Anarchy the concept began to move away from its humble origins, becoming more overtly political.

And that’s okay, because otherwise the sequels would have been essentially remakes of the original movie.

Though change, like anything else, brings risk.

In this particular instance, for me it’s that the series has been building to a story about–potentially–the fall of the government in the United States that supports and promotes the Purge (after they attempt to use it to cover an assassination attempt on a Senator).

As I said, change is necessary, though I am not crazy about the direction; though I expect it to do quite well because they’re releasing it July 4th–Independence Day in the United States–which is more than a little bit brilliant.

Don’t Breathe – Trailer

Don’t Breathe is an interesting trailer that comes off as the anti-Hush, if you will.

Hush, currently on Netflix, revolves a woman who–if I recall–loses her voice to a bout of meningitis at some point in her past.

She ends up terrorized by a killer and she’s unable to call for help because the aforementioned infection robbed her of her voice.

The point being, Don’t Breathe takes a similar approach, though makes the bad guy–if the trailer is any indicator–blind.

What’s pretty clever is that in one instance the blind man has his prey in a dark room, putting everyone on even ground, which I am not sure that I buy because being unable to see doesn’t mean that your remaining senses are any sharper; so a blind person in a unfamiliar dark room would be no better off than a sighted person in a room too dark to see in.

Though if the blind person were in a familiar location…the equation changes demonstrably.

Lights Out – Trailer

I kind of like the idea behind David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out, but I am not sure how it stands up to scrutiny.  After all, in the trailer the phantasm doesn’t appear in pitch darkness-which the title implies–but when there’s a nearby light source.

This is an important distinction because my scariest moments tend to happen not in total darkness, but when it is broken by light, and my mind tries to make sense of the shadows of various objects (it doesn’t help that I’m nearsighted, and without my glasses everything is a blur anyway).

The darkness–and a hyperactive imagination–sometimes twists the shadows into some very creepy forms, which is one reason I don’t tend to put my clothing on a chair before I go to bed.

Depending upon my mood I will either be terribly creeped out, and get up and move them; ignore it and go back to sleep, or stare at it till it resolves itself into something a little more like a pair of pants or whatever.