Thursday, 22 September 2016

Blair Witch

Year:  2016
Director:  Adam Wingard
Screenplay:  Simon Barrett
Starring:  James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Valorie Curry, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson
Running Time:  89 minutes
Genre:  horror, supernatural

James Donohue (McCune) finds an online video which seemingly contains an image of his sister Heather, who disappeared twenty years previously in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while investigating the local legend of the Blair Witch.  Believing his sister may still be alive, James heads off into the woods, accompanied by his friends Peter (Scott), Ashley (Reid) and film student Lisa (Hernandez) who intends to film their search for a documentary.  They are joined by Burkittsville locals Lane (Robinson) and Talia (Curry) who uploaded the footage.  Before long a series of strange and frightening events befall them.  

This is the second sequel to the influential The Blair Witch Project (1999), following the unsuccessful Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2 (2000).  As with the original film, this is a "found footage" movie, where everything is allegedly filmed by the characters on screen.  While in the original this was novel and innovative, here it looks kind of tired, due to the flood of found footage films that unleashed themselves after the success of Blair Witch Project.  By and large this has the same basic structure as the original, except everything is bigger: instead of the original trio, here there are six people lost in the woods; whereas in the first film they had a couple of cameras, here they have an arsenal of DV cameras, spy cameras, ear-mounted headset cameras, and a drone.  Also, while the original film thrived on subtlety and ambiguity, there is nothing subtle here, with sudden jump scares, loud noises, crashing trees, and tents, equipment and people shooting into the sky and crashing back to earth.  This turns it into a fairly conventional horror film, also, unlike the original, you are left in no doubt that the threat is supernatural, and the Blair Witch feels thoroughly demystified by the end.  There are some tense scenes and some elements, such as the way time and space become distorted, are quite effective.  However, the characters are pretty much one dimensional and spend most of the time bickering or screaming.  The found footage style quickly becomes tiresome and frustrating, with the jerky, grainy images.

Valorie Curry runs afoul of the Blair Witch


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