For its time, The Blair Witch Project stunned audiences back in 1999. This not so contemporary ‘horror’ film broke the boundaries of film making by using the ever-present found footage technique to make the film authentic. Fast forward 17 years later and we have had our fair share of found footage movies since 1999. The genre is a dying breed now and has nearly no effect on audiences these days, but surely the best way to put the final nail in the coffin for the genre would be to revisit the Blair Witch one more time? Starting off the genre with The Blair Witch Project and ending it on a reboot/sequel of the late 90’s film should be the perfect way to end the found footage genre, once and for all. And to be fair, it’s not a bad way to go out if it is.
How do you continue the story of the Blair Witch might I hear you ask? Well, remember Heather, the lead girl in the first movie? She has a younger brother called James who encounters a video online which he believes is his sister, who is clearly still enduring hell in the woods. Deciding to try to find his sister in the woods, he tracks down the uploader of the video who found the footage in the woods and asks for his friends and the uploaders help to find Heather. Trying to follow on and recapture that tense and horrifying feeling that the first film had is almost impossible. Blair Witch is already up against it as it battles audiences who are immune to the found footage genre and predictability in the plot.
One of the good things about this movie is the choice of director in Adam Wingard. A huge fan of his previous work, a young and extremely talented film maker has shot this Blair Witch sequel/reboot excellently. His directing techniques are all used effectively and creatively to bring you back into the woods for another outing. The use of drones especially with the characters really showed depth and coverage of the woods. That footage of the drone going up high in the sky showed that it is impossible for our main characters to find a way out of the forest. Wingard has modernized the Blair Witch by using cameras that loop around the ear and of course the use of drones. But even though it has all been modernized, I can’t help to think that it still looks exactly the same.
In a story telling point of view, the initial plot is interesting. The main characters aren’t there to find this Blair Witch; instead they are there to find a missing person. Again, even though the story is slightly different, the plot and the ultimate ending to the film is predictable and ultimately, a little disappointing. I was hoping for something fresh and new to take me back to those heights of nearly crapping myself but It just felt like I was watching the original movie over again.
It’s a shame that the whole movie is incredibly similar to the 1999 movie. Barring the last 15-20 minutes of the movie which was absolutely terrifying! But the rest of the film was very samey and it just created a sense of predictability which then runs through the whole length of the film. Wingard is an exceptional film maker, and I’m sure he could have completely reinvented the whole feel and direction of the genre. In his defence though, trying to make something new out of the Blair Witch was always going to be an incredibly difficult task. Even though I knew what was going to happen, there were moments when I felt scared and most importantly, entertained. 3.5 out of 5 stars.