Visuals / Camera
Pacing / Editing
Entertainment Value / X-Factor
Mood / Atmosphere
The cheap cash-in Hollywood always wanted, but 16 years too late.
When The Blair Witch Project hit theaters in 1999, it was a massive success. It didn’t come as much of a surprise when a sequel was immediately put into works. After his major success with the Paradise Lost documentaries, it was decided by studio execs that they wanted to bring in Joe Berlinger. After all, TBWP was shot in that found footage documentary format that’s plagued the horror genre ever since, so why not get a legitimate documentarian to helm the project?
Unbeknownst to Hollywood, Berlinger had at least a shred of talent, and brought more than they expected to the table. You see, Hollywood wanted another film about kids getting lost in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland. Since that would be exactly what the original film was about, Berlinger decided to take the sequel in a different direction, and give audiences something we hadn’t seen yet — instead of taking the easy direction, and recycling the original film.
Whether you’re a fan of Book of Shadow: Blair Witch 2, you have to at least appreciate what Berlinger set out to do with the film. At least the dude was trying to give us something different, and that’s something we don’t get often in the horror genre anymore. Now, almost 20 years after the release of the original film, Hollywood is finally getting the sequel they always wanted; another rinse and repeat of the original The Blair Witch Project.
As I stated above, we’re getting a rinse and repeat of the original film, but the setup is just a little bit different. The brother of Heather from the original film stumbles across a video on the internet that was supposedly discovered in the area where the three friends went missing in the original film, and the man thinks he spots his sister in this mysterious footage. He enlists the help of his friends, one of which is a documentary filmmaker, to go with him into the woods in hopes of finding his long lost sister.
…. No, this is not a joke. This guy seriously thinks he’s going to set out and find his sister that would now be in her 40-50’s living in the woods like she’s Mowgli from The Jungle Book. Speaking of which, let’s go ahead and look at the characters.
The Desperate Brother: First up, we have the desperate brother that’s willing to do anything to find his sister that he hasn’t seen since he was 4-years-old. In other words, we’re supposed to be understanding when he allows his emotions to overrule common sense.
The Filmmaker Friend: Of course we have the filmmaker friend that has a plethora of gadgets at the groups disposal. Even though she’s supposed to be helping her friends, she also has her own agenda, which is capturing footage. So, expect some “Get that camera out of my fucking face!” moments.
The African American Couple: It’s been a long-running joke since the original film was released that black people wouldn’t fall for The Blair Witch’s trickery, because they wouldn’t be in the woods in the first place. I’ve seen this in satires, and have heard the joke too many times to count. So, we have a black couple in The Blair Witch, and can you guess what type of characters they portray? If your guess was the, “I fucking hate camping and we’re so out of place,” stereotype, you got it! Still, the film had something even cheaper lined up for these characters, and we’ll get to that later.
The Redneck Couple: After the group of friends make it to Burkittsville, they meet up with a couple of locals that were responsible for uploading the original video to the internet that caught the main character’s attention. These characters are supposed to be your typical, possibly racist redneck couple that we’re led not to trust right from the beginning.
Now, we have all of the character descriptions out of the way, and as you can see, they’re painfully typical. Sadly, you can probably guess how the movie plays out just from the characters I outlined for you.
Essentially, this film is The Blair Witch Project 2.0. We have a new, albeit typical, cast of characters, and some updated technology, such as GPS and drones. The group gets lost, starts fighting with each other, and there’s even some really cheap racial tension that the filmmakers tried to force in there in a very cheap, and desperate way.
Now, here’s where this film differs from the original.
Since this film is practically the same as the original, you’re probably wondering why you should even watch it. Well, there are some differences, and I’ll go ahead and outline those for you.
Suspense: The original film relied on atmosphere, suspense, and tension to scare the audience. Whether it was effective or not is up for the viewer to decide, but I can tell you now that this film shares none of those traits.
Jump Scares: This movie relies on jump scares to get a reaction out of the audience, and they’re not shy about it whatsoever. With the jump scares being extremely obvious, and plentiful, you’ll become accustomed to them very quickly. They’re not even the good jump scares, either. These are the ones in which a character walks into frame, and then an extremely loud sound clip bursts your ear drums.
The Technology: As I stated above, this film is like the original, but with updated technology. Still, it doesn’t even matter. You’ll see.
The Blair Witch Lore: In the original film, we got a decent bit of info about the Blair Witch lore, which is practically nonexistent in this film. Sure, there’s some talk about the witch and the area, but it’s mostly stuff we already know, like: Spooky stuff happens in these woods!
Call me geeky, but I’d like to learn a little bit more than that.
The Blair Witch: Unlike the previous films, you’re actually going to finally get to see the Blair Witch in this one, and she’s not fucking around this time. The filmmakers wanted to make her ultra spooky, so they turned her into what can only be referred to as the Uber Witch!!
She goes around the forest being ultra tall and lanky while knocking over trees like a dinosaur. Speaking of which, the filmmakers have also given her a dinosaur-like roar that they’re not afraid to use in those jump scares I mentioned above.
Basically, we’ve waited 16 years to get the cash-in sequel that Hollywood always wanted to put out. That being said, if you’re looking for a modern retelling of the same story we’ve already seen, but with less enthusiasm, you’ll get what you’re looking for with Blair Witch.