Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: Blair Witch (2016)
Starring: Callie Hernandez, James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, Wes Robinson, Corbin Reid, and Brandon Scott
Written By: Simon Barrett
Directed By: Adam Wingard
Synopsis: After what appears to be leaked footage dating back to when his sister went missing, James and a few of his friends enter the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the truth surrounding her disappearance.
At least once per decade, a film comes out that redefines the genre, sending it in a new direction. In the 90’s, we had a renaissance with meta horror found in the late Wes Craven’s 1996 classic- Scream. A mere three years later the genre would change yet again with 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. Co-Directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick helped the genre shift and their little indie film became one of the pioneers of the found-footage sub-genre.
The success of the film undoubtedly came from its marketing, this we all know so I won’t be going into all of that- hell, I’m not even here to discuss the original Blair Witch. However, the film was an instant classic, spawning a sequel followed by years of talks of a new film. Finally, we got one and I am here to give you my thoughts on 2016’s Blair Witch!
One thing I will say up front, I have a soft spot for the guys behind this project. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett were the driving force behind one of my favorite modern horror films- You’re Next. After seeing that film (initially being very skeptical) I decided that I would give anything that these two tackle a fair shake. So, when I heard that the two of them were working on this little film titled The Woods– I was quite excited.
If you want to get at my sweet spot, set your film in a quiet neighborhood, or set them in the middle of the woods. Both are equally sinister when you are alone in them. Then add some crazy spooky things happening, BOOM you have effectively brought in great escalation! This is something you need in your film. Especially in horror. Blair Witch is an amazing display of escalation in a horror show. As we set along this journey with James and his friends, we begin to feel what they feel.
Blair Witch almost plays as a remake of the original but modernized, I can see certain big-name franchises taking a thing or two from the filmmakers here and utilizing them to bring back some of the iconic characters that we clamor to see done justice. Another good example of this would be 2018’s Halloween directed by David Gordon Green. There they took the simplicity of the original film and just added modern flourishes and the film was immensely successful. Same can be said for Blair Witch. We have a story of a group of friends going out into some supposedly haunted woods and having a really bad time while they are out there. It is a simple story but told in modern ways.
Another thing that Blair Witch upped was the acting. I know, a lot of people drone on and on about the terrible acting in the original film. I think the original film was pretty good in terms of acting- especially when you take into consideration that the film was mostly just adlibbed and there pretty much wasn’t a script from what I have been told (I could be wrong on that one- if so, please let me know).
This one, unlike the original was scripted but still holds that same vibe. In this go around, we get to see some of the stuff that was going on where we couldn’t in The Blair Witch Project due to budget constraints. Blair Witch gives us what we need with a sequel and with this one now widely available on Blu-Ray, I think we could all (for the most part) agree that this is the direct sequel we wanted.
Blair Witch also played with the with the marketing like the original did. No, they couldn’t pull the “this really happened, this footage is real” trick, but the film managed to keep itself tightly under wraps. The promotion for this was all about a film titled The Woods and then surprise, it’s really Blair Witch. I know it fooled me up until it was unveiled at Comic-Con I believe. Either way, the marketing intrigued me, I felt the film had a cool trailer and had even mentioned to some friends that I thought that this one could be something special.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I will even go as far as to say I like it a little bit more than the original. Yes, it could be personal bias due to my loving the writing and directing team on this one, but I still love the original as well. This for me is one of those toss up films in regards to which is better because it could change by the day.
It is no secret that I am going to recommend Blair Witch. Is it the best film of the year? No. Is it something you have seen before? Of course! However, there is fun to be had with it and it looks great. There are some genuinely frightening moments that are unnerving, and some moments that take you totally by surprise! If you haven’t seen it, go check it out and then come back and let us know what you think! If you have seen it, sound off in the comments with your own thoughts!
My name is Joshua Macmillan, I am an author of horror and dark fiction. My first publication is a short story within the 13:Night Terrors anthology published by Limitless Publishing! I am currently working on my first novel and plan to have as many short stories published as possible while I work on the novel! I look forward to hearing from you guys! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
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