It is said that “the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Alternatively, the greatest trick the best moviemakers pull off is convincing their audience that whatever is happening on the screen is real, but achieving this is easier said than done: even the most sought-after, elite directors find it hard to do. That’s why it was a feat of great prowess when independent filmmakers Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick did it in style back in 1999. “The Blair Witch Project” was a massive hit that nobody saw coming, and its success stoked an entire subgenre of found-footage movies that have taken over the Hollywood horror scene. Attempts to recreate the magic through its sequel/prequel “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” failed miserably in 2000, but now, a second sequel is here – “Blair Witch.” The new film answers questions that were left unanswered in the earlier movies, but at the same time, raises even more of them.
First of all, “Blair Witch” takes over directly where the first movie ended and does not acknowledge the existence of its prequel or of any of the events portrayed in the second movie.
“Blair Witch” follows the young James, brother of Heather, the original Blair Witch victim from the first movie. Since her disappearance in 1994, James has never believed that she is dead; he believes that she is alive somewhere in the woods and is waiting for him to find and rescue her. So, some years after her disappearance, he mounts a search and rescue mission. James is accompanied by Lisa, a filmmaking student, his close friends, Peter and Ashley, and a pair who claim to have footage that shows Heather alive in the woods. Unlike the original team, these people bring state-of-the-art film equipment along: they have everything from camera fitted drones to ear mounted cameras.
The members of the team soon get into squabbles and begin to disintegrate. They soon get lost in the woods, and start going around in circles. This is when they are attacked by a mysterious creature from the woods (all caught on camera).
As a standalone movie, “Blair Witch” could have been accepted as a decent attempt at a horror movie, but as a sequel that should carry on the legacy of “The Blair Witch Project,” it does not live up to its standards. The movie is scary, including jump scares, sudden appearances in the frame, unexpected sounds, but it is still far from being considered a worthy sequel.
The actors are all professionals, whereas the original movie featured first-time actors. Despite this reason, the genuine dread and fear of the actors in the original movie was evident. Most of the time, those actors had no idea about the scare-fests that the directors had planned for them, so their fears and reactions were 100% genuine. On the other hand, even with professional actors, the latest sequel does not pull off the same level of convincing acting. In that sense, the sequel is just like any other generic horror movie that’s far from terrifying. If that wasn’t enough, the director failed to take advantage of the multitude of camera angles that he had at his disposal.
Perhaps the biggest factor that worked against the movie is the same thing its makers hoped would work in its favor. The movie appeared to reveal too much about the core of the horror franchise – Blair Witch. It appears that the movie finally shows a creature that the audience believes to be the real Blair Witch. With the appearance of this creature, the mystery surrounding the horror died away, making the horror franchise kind of naked, which sealed the sequel’s fate.
However, the movie’s writer, Simon Barrett, confirmed later that the creature is not Blair Witch. So far, the directors and writers of both films have misled the audience into believing the Blair Witch was Elly Kedward. Elly Kedward, an Irish woman, lived in Blair, now known as Burkittsville, and was accused of witchcraft. She was hung in the woods, with stones tied to her limbs: under the weight of the stones, her limbs stretched in a horrifying manner. The creature who appeared in the latest sequel appears to have similar injuries as Elly, but as Simon confirmed, Elly is not Blair Witch, but just a vehicle used by the real Blair Witch. These details could have been carefully revealed in the movie instead of announcing them afterwards.
All in all, Blair Witch is a huge improvement over the disaster that was “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2,” but, it is not as terrifying or cinematically sound as the original movie, “The Blair Witch Project.” However, it is still a spooky tale worth a watch this Halloween! By subscribing to a Comcast cable plan, you can see when Blair Witch will air on a premium movie channel.