Posted Sep 15 2016

Blair Witch - This Unexpected Sequel Knows Not How To Rock

Dir: Adam Wingard

Starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson

The sequel nobody expected. Or, as it turns out, wanted. And certainly not needed. Director Wingard, who impressed greatly with his batshit crazy horror The Guest, filmed this under the deliberately non-descript title of The Woods and only announced his true intent at Comic Con earlier this year. Oh, how we smiled. (We’re not smiling now.)

Blair Witch goes back into the woods, with the brother of long lost Heather Donahue from the first film, which, lest we forget, was a full 17 years ago, back when the internet could be easily (and innocently) subverted for the sake of a grass roots guerrilla-like teaser campaign that went viral – before we even knew what that meant. (And now here we are in the age where 50 Shades Darker teases the launch of its own teaser without having the sense of irony to make better use of the word “tease,” given the subject matter.)

So anyway, Heather’s brother James (played by James, much as “Heather” was played by Heather) finds some new found footage of what may have happened to his absent sis, and – as you do – recruits some friends to go back to the woods with a whole bunch o’ cameras. Can you guess what happens next?

Of course, the real legacy of the original Project turned out not to be its smart manipulating of the www, but delivering unto the world the found footage horror movie (yes, we know they weren’t the first, but – come on!), which, in the years since has become more of a curse than anything resembling a blessing. This one adds body cams, GPS and even a drone camera to the mix (the latter of which Wingard seems to have no idea what to do with, so all but abandons.) But the tropes remain the same – and if anything they’re upped. Things go bang, people go jump, and shakeycam acts as a stand in for genuine tension. To be fair, it does try to add a couple of elements – a riff on the nature of eternal damnation and a little bit of body horror – but swiftly opts for the “abandon all hope of originality thee who enter here” approach.

The original Blair Witch Project, for all its faults and the legacy it inadvertently begat, was at least innovative. This rarely moves beyond derivative. (And at times almost borders on parody – in a Wayans kinda way.) Full of bangs and things that go bump in the night. And little else. Plus it commits the one cardinal sin that all horror movies need to avoid – it’s boring!


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