Film Review: Blair Witch
Subtlety – that was the name of the game in the Blair Witch Project. It was a masterpiece of it, utilising it in ways that no other horror films really did at the time. Subtlety – that’s what’s entirely lacking from Blair Witch, and what makes it basically rubbish.
The film in itself isn’t too bad – it’s a decent horror, your standard ‘found footage jump scares’ flick. The problem is is that it’s a sequel to the Blair Witch Project, and so can only be looked at in comparison to it.
To try and look at The Blair Witch in and of itself – the premise we have is that the (now clichéd) person finds a video on the internet and wants to go investigate the plot. This person takes three of his closest friends, and they travel to Burketsville to meet up with the finder/uploader of the video, and with his girlfriend in tow, the six of them travel in to the woods to see where the video was found, and to investigate its origins.
It’s a simple premise, and it’s executed in an interesting, and vaguely watchable way. As the story progresses, we find out the people who found and uploaded the video, Lane (played by Wes Robinson), together with his girlfriend Talia (Valorie Curry), are not at all what they seem. This adds mystery to the film, but it’s far too short-lived – upon being confronted, Lane and Talia confess all too easily, and what little mystery intrigued us is now gone.
I’m not going to lie, this film had me jumping a lot – but for really annoying reasons. Being a found footage movie, we see all through various cameras (including one on a drone, which was a cool idea while it lasted), and it’s actually the cameras themselves that provide most of the jumps. Rather than monsters, ghosts, witches, or whatever, most of the jumps come from the cameras glitching. A blur of vision accompanied by a loud noise. Simple, but effective. But to me, this is cheap. It’s too easy. One thing about this film is that it didn’t stay with me. Proper horror films follow you around for a while after you leave the cinema; they make you scared of your own home, scared of going out after dark – this doesn’t. The Blair Witch stayed well and truly in the cinema, where it belonged.
The cast are all perfectly okay, with one minor exception. We follow around 6 people – in fact, if memory serves me correctly, there are only 6 people in the entire film. We have James (played by James McCune) the sister of Heather from the original, our main protagonist and the person insistent on the trip to the woods; Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid); Peter (Brandon Scott); and the previously mentioned Lane and Talia. As I say, they’re all perfectly fine, with the exception of Peter. It’s not the actor, or the acting, that’s bad, it’s the script. Every single stereotype of a black person in a horror film is used, repeatedly, and it’s awful. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and borderline racist. And completely unnecessary. If we go back to the lack of subtlety – it’s hard to achieve subtlety when one of the characters is running around screaming “aw hell no” at the top of his lungs.
I’ve tried not to compare it to the original, but I can’t any longer. The original had children laughing in the night, with one or two figures and rock piles appearing in the morning – it was ridiculously creepy. The sequel has trees falling down (“did anyone else hear that?” obviously everyone heard it), almost the entire woods covered with stick figures and rock piles. It’s ridiculously obvious. The original has them walking around all day, only to end up in the same spot. The sequel does exactly the same – it’s ridiculous, they’ve basically just copied an entire scene. The original is genuinely terrifying; the sequel is drawn out, over cooked, done already.
I’ve saved the best for last – the sequel shows the witch. I can’t think of anything, anything in the world they should have done less. This is the ultimate sin. How do you ruin a film about an unknown monster? Make the monster known. I was almost embarrassed by it, had I not been too busy jumping at the sketchy glitching cameras.
Overall, this film is just rubbish. In its own right, it’s a passable jump scare American horror film, nothing ground-breaking, but very watchable. However, as a sequel to The Blair Witch Project, it’s not too harsh to say it’s a disgrace.