Seventeen years ago “The Blair Witch Project” showed the world just how effective low budget horror films could be and introduced the mainstream film world to what would become known as the found footage genre.
Its sequel, simply called “Blair Witch,” brings us back to the deep, dark woods and reminds us all just how terrifying it can be to experience the unknown while surrounded by the pitch black, untamed wilderness.
Picking up in modern day, this movie follows Peter (James Allen McCune), brother of one of the main characters from the first Blair Witch movie, who goes on a journey to find his missing sister after discovering evidence that suggests that she may be alive.
Even after 17 years.
Accompanying him is Lisa, (Callie Hernandez), a film student and love interest of Peter who wishes to document his search for her own school project.
They, along with a few other characters, plunge into the Black Hills woods only to find themselves facing off against the same supernatural forces that doomed the first group of filmmakers so many years ago.
Those of us who remember when the first “Blair Witch” came out not only know that what made the first film such a unique project wasn’t just its viral marketing, but also its guerilla style of filmmaking, which lent the movie a raw, realistic tone. Sadly, that aspect
is dulled this time around due to major-studio backing and a lack of improvisation.
However, while the film does tread familiar territory, hitting beat for beat all the story points of the first, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still effective.
In other words, this film is genuinely terrifying and incredibly intense.
For those of you who suffer from claustrophobia, consider this fair warning.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a fair share of flaws to be found in “Blair Witch.” For one, none of the characters are given much depth or personality.
I feel that that may have been a conscious decision by the writers, giving the audience blank slates on which to project themselves.
But even if that were the case, it still would have been nice to round them out a bit more.
Also, while the movie does a great job of building up tension in the quiet moments, it relies a bit too much on jump scares.
Even to the point that one of the film’s characters calls it out.
Also to emphasize just how much things have changed between films, our characters start out their journey with body cameras, GPS and video drones.
But none of these items are really used to their utmost and in fact offer a few plot holes which are never addressed.
“Blair Witch” is a flawed movie to be sure, but one where the positives outweigh the negatives.
There’s just something refreshing about a simple but effective ghost story that takes place around a campfire.
It’s one of those films that you will find yourself thinking about on cold nights when the wind howls at your windowsill and the atmosphere in your home feels unnervingly still.
Needless to say, it was worth the 17-year wait.