The release of The Blair Witch Project in 1999 set in motion the massive cinematic vehicle of found footage horror films. The film was incredibly successful both critically and at the box office and gained a huge return on its budget. The film tells the story of a group of friends filming for a college project, investigating the curse of the Blair Witch, who has been reported to be responsible for the disappearance and death of multiple people.
Blair Witch picks up 16 years after the last film, with the brother of the main female protagonist desperate to find out what happened to his sister. After being convinced that he’d seen her in a video posted online, he and his friends set out to try and find out what happened in the forest that night. As we’ve moved into the 21st century, hand cameras have now been exchanged for head cameras and drones. Unfortunately that is where the differences between the two films ends.
Blair Witch treads water for the vast majority of its runtime, trying to build up the tension as the groups camp is visited overnight several times, and the iconic symbol hung around their tents. The group members slowly start to descend into madness and fear as they find themselves lost in the forest. For me, the film didn’t hold my interest in the quiet moments and the jump scares and trickery played had no significant effect on me. I have only seen the original recently, and wasn’t a fan, and it was very much the same with this one. I hoped the sequel would expand on the Blair Witch and offer some more explanations but really it just feels like a re-tread of the original to the point where it might as well have been a remake.
The film’s strongest performance comes from Wes Robinson, playing a web aficionado who immediately starts to form tension between the group as his strange behaviour and attitude does not sit well with the protagonists. Him and his friend Talia, played by Valorie Curry, convince the group to take them into the woods in exchange for important information, but it quickly becomes clear they are as clueless when it comes to navigating the forest as the rest of the group.
The acting from the other cast members is average at best, but I don’t really feel they had the script or ideas to sink their teeth into, and it felt like some scenes were just tagged on. The score seems hammy at times and tends to distract from the tension rather than add to it.
In a world where just about every old film is in the process of being remade, this isn’t terrible, but it felt too safe and didn’t add anything to the original. The future of the franchise surely rests on how this film does, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another Blair Witch film. I just hope it does a better job at contributing towards the franchise than this bland attempt.
Dir: Adam Wingard
Scr: Simon Barrett
Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
Prod: Jess Calder and Keith Calder
Music: Adam Wingard
Run time: 89 minutes
Blair Witch is out in cinemas on Thursday 15th September