In 1999, the cult-classic found-footage film “The Blair Witch Project” was released. The film received mixed reviews from critics at the time, but has now arguably become one of the most notable horror movies of our generation. When “Blair Witch,” the similarly found-footage sequel made 17 years later, hit theaters this week audiences were skeptical that it could live up to the hype of its predecessor.
“Blair Witch” opens with James (James McCune), the younger brother of Heather Donahue, the protagonist from the original “Blair Witch Project.” Though his sister disappeared in the Black Hills forest 17 years ago, James had always maintained hope that she could still be alive somewhere.
After two locals from the nearby town of Burkitsville allegedly find one of the tapes from Heather’s crew in the woods, James and his friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Peter (Brandon Scott) venture out to the Black Hills forest to conduct a second search for the long-lost Heather. Joined by the two locals who recount the legend of the Blair Witch as they venture in, the jokes and ghost stories of the first few scenes in the woods are short-lived.
As you would imagine, after the first night in the woods, everything begins to go wrong. They find that no matter how far or long they hike, they continue to end up in the same spot they started the night before. One by one, they start disappearing, and soon it becomes a wild chase through the woods as they fight to escape.
This sequel does not disappoint. Where the original movie featured the crew walking around the woods in circles and swearing for what seemed like most of the movie, “Blair Witch” does exactly the opposite. This is not to say that the exposition is not done well; it certainly fills in the gaps for those who have not seen the original. But it also does not pull any punches with getting to the action. After the first half hour, it is nonstop tension.
Found-footage films can always be a little shaky to watch, but “Blair Witch” incorporates new technologies like earpiece cameras and drones that make the filming much smoother and clearer than usual.
Though the acting is not going to win any awards, it was relatively well-done even though it featured fairly novice actors.
The strongest part of “Blair Witch” was undoubtedly the jump-scares. The last half of the movie featured jump scenes galore, along with a couple terrifying shots of the Blair Witch herself. The movie relies largely on sucking you into the forest atmosphere, and soon enough you start to feel as helpless as the characters, lost in a dark forest where every tree looks the same as the last. With only flashlight beams lighting the black woods and dense trees, you will find yourself unwittingly peering through the cracks of your fingers while you watch, waiting for something to pop up from the shadows.
Fans of horror will be pleased by this cult classic sequel, as it is certainly one of the scariest movies I have seen in a while. If you are someone who only casually likes scary movies, I would not recommend seeing this film. It is not for the faint of heart. But for anyone looking for a thrill at the movies this week, definitely check this one out.