Monday, October 3, 2016

Movie Review: BLAIR WITCH

After discovering a video allegedly showing what he believes to be his sister Heather vanishing in the Blair Forest, James (James Allen McCune) sets out, with the help of some of his best friends, to explore the forest where his sister vanished years ago, strongly believing that she actually is still there and not quite believing the legends of the Blair Witch believed to inhabit the forest and haunt whoever goes into it.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) is one of the best horror films ever made. It still holds up perfectly, seventeen years later, it is an original, fresh concept brought to life with incredible power and vision. It is a great film about survival, paranoia and madness that just happens to be terrifying. It is, to this day, the film that has used the medium of found footage the most effectively.

Yet, when looking back, one thing that I must say is that it's not a film that really lends itself to a sequel and that is why Blair Which ultimately fails to be a worthy horror effort. While Wingard and Barret, who previously worked on the truly great The Guest, both do a very good, if flawed, job overall it simply ends up feeling cheap and unwarranted because they are stretching and overreaching in a mythology that neither needs it nor lends itself to it.

On a direction level there isn't much to fault other than the fact that Wingard overuses, to the point of annoyance, camera glitches and fake jump scares. For the rest this is a competently made horror flick, which grounds its found footage aspect enough to the audience for it not to be distracting and uses it as a handy tool on different occasions, there might be a little over reliance on sound, but there is some creepy imagery too that manages to balance things out.

On a writing level the characters are all well rounded and, might I add, played really well by the whole cast. Motivations can be a bit edgy, but they are clear and in the end you care for these people and feel the danger they are in. We get lots of suspense in the film, more so than horror and this is the element that works the most in the film, there are prolonged moments of true jeopardy and you manage to feel and experience that right along with the characters.

What is simply missing is originality and freshness of voice. There is nothing here that we haven't seen before and most of it we've seen in the original film. Whilst films like Paranormal Activity, Chronicle or Rec manage to do something new and interesting with the medium, Blair Witch simply stays behind and makes almost no impact on the viewer. Admittedly, as I said in my intro, it would be almost impossible to make something truly excellent come out of this and Wingard and Barrett truly give their best here, but I think that their immense creativity, which we managed to witness and pleasure ourselves with in The Guest, is put on hold, they are given some limits into which to operate and what comes out is a finely crafted film that lacks depth and fresh ideas even in its premise.

When Blair Witch was announced at comic con I probably was one of the only people to be disappointed because what I wanted to see was Wingard's and Barret's The Woods actually. Whilst they still have full credit for being competent and passionate filmmakers I am sorry to say that I personally don't see this as an effort worthy of their imagination.

James's Score: 5.5/10

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