‘The Blair Witch Project’ has become something of a cult classic since its release in 1999. No wonder considering many viewers at the time believed the film to feature real footage of missing persons. Fast forward nearly two decades and we’ve got the inevitable sequel, ignoring ‘Book of Shadows’, cleverly disguised as unattached horror movie ‘The Woods’. With all this in mind, despite not being the biggest fan of the horror genre, I had to check out ‘Blair Witch’.
The narrative for the film unfolds fairly naturally, with James, the brother of Heather from the first film, wanting to venture back to the woods that she disappeared in to find out the truth about what happened to her. However, other than this the narrative is almost identical to the first film. Other than updating things for a more modern audience ‘Blair Witch’ does little to improve upon the original. If not for the character connection of Heather this film could easily have been a remake rather than a sequel. There is problems beyond the unoriginal story too though as a lot of the supporting cast really struggle to be convincing with their performances. The two leads, James Allen McCune and Callie Hernandez fare considerably better although it’s hard to know whether this is just a case of comparison or not. Along with the average to poor performances comes absolutely zero character development which means the audience won’t care less about theses individuals.
The big question with any horror film though is; how scary is it? Take it from me, a self confessed wimp, not very. The film hops on the modern day horror bandwagon of the jump scare in such lazy fashion. The jump scares aren’t even reasonable, they nearly all arise due to members of the group somehow sneaking up on other members of the group and waiting for them to turn around. This happens too many times throughout the film to excuse it. I’ll admit much like the original film the finale does crank up the fear factor and it made for some uncomfortable viewing. However, I’d have no problem watching this film again as I’d be able to with next to no anxiety about what I was watching. For me ‘Blair Witch’ really failed on all fronts. Whilst not to my taste, for a horror to be a success it needs to be scary, this isn’t. Failing that they can still work if they are entertaining or fun e.g ‘Scream’. Even if they aren’t that scary or fun if they have likable characters which you can route for something can be salvaged but I’m afraid that ‘Blair Witch’ draws a blank on all three of these.
Maybe as a remake this film would have worked but as a sequel it can’t justify its existence. The narrative makes sense to start with but when it simply retraces the path that the original film takes you start to crave any creativity. The characters and cast are mediocre at best which doesn’t help engage the audience. Most disappointingly I’m sure for horror fans though will be the lack of quality scares here, instead the piece is plagued by the same jump scare again and again up until the uninspired ending. In a year of good quality horror, other than the reveal of ‘Blair Witch’, I doubt this sequel will leave any impact.
Rating – 5/10
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