blair-witchLionsgate
2016
R

“The guy who uploaded this video said it was from a tape he found in the Black Hills woods. I think that might be my sister.”

A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods, but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.

Hey, look. A sequel to an overly hyped and overrated movie that no one expected. Or asked for. Yet, we were given one, and…well, even I have to admit, despite my curmudgeon-y grumpiness going into watching this, I did find Blair Witch a lot better than I would have guessed.

My memories of watching The Blair Witch Project back in 1999 involve me sitting there with my friend in the theater, in front of a couple of teenage girls who wouldn’t shut up if their lives depended on it, thinking periodically, “something’s about to happen sooner or later, right? It’s not just going to be a bunch of home movies about some annoying pretentious film school students getting lost in the woods, right?” And then feeling rather put-off by having just spent roughly ninety minutes of a bunch of walking around and arguing, with some things alluded to but never fully realized. I mean, the whole viral marketing campaign was far more interesting than what the actual movie turned out to be. That’s probably why I haven’t really done a proper review of that movie as of this writing (I probably will at some point, mind you). If any movie needed a sequel to explain things, it was this one. Unfortunately, the sequel that we got a year later was more of a separate movie that had the words “Blair Witch” slapped on the title to cash in on the success of the first one.

So, here we are now, with the second sequel to The Blair Witch Project, and probably the first proper sequel. I had the chance to catch this when it was first in the theaters, but I didn’t want to. I tried to wait for it to hit the second-run theater, but it was there for maybe a split second before it moved on. Yeah, this one wasn’t as popular as the first Blair Witch movie. I wonder why.

That last bit was sarcastic. There’s no need for sending me explanations. Moving on…

So now, I finally got around to watching it on VOD, and like I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I did find myself enjoying this Blair Witch more than the first one. Mind you, this is more of the found footage style that was the first movie’s calling card (one that inspired many imitations, for better or for worse…mostly worse), and it’s easy to just blow this off as a retread of the first movie. That’s because it is…for the first part of it. Only, there’s more lurking underneath the surface I was unprepared for, which is a good thing in this case.

The story revolves around the younger brother of the Heather character from the first movie setting out in the woods near Burkittsville with his friends, one of which is filming a documentary about the search, and a couple of locals who found the tape which allegedly had footage of his sister on there. Things get to a kind of rough start when it turns out the two locals have been faking some basic “hauntings” as they camped out the first night, getting them kicked off of the exposition. That’s when the actual wackiness begins, starting off with getting lost, and odd sounds coming from the woods that don’t really add up to the usual critters that would dwell there. Then there’s the issue of time going all wibbily-wobbly, not to mention the eternal darkness that has enveloped the woods. They begin disappearing one by one, until the two survivors come across a certain cabin, where they not only run into someone familiar and quite insane, but actually catch a glimpse of the Blair Witch herself. Which, as it turns out, is a very bad thing to happen.

As sequels go, Blair Witch is a good one. It manages to revisit the story while not being a complete retread of it, actually adding on to what came before. I would say the best thing to do is to forget Book Of Shadows even existed in this universe, and consider this the true follow-up that the Blair Witch Project needed. Yes, it’s found footage, but while the first movie was a bunch of running around and overreacting to stuff, this one goes a bit further to offering up a glimpse of the Witch herself. Mind you, it’s just a glimpse, but it’s there and it’s a frightening vision indeed. I’m not going to spoil things, but I do have a theory about the Blair Witch at this point that features into New England Native American folklore that could be relevant here. But, that’s a moot point, really.

So, overall, what I’m saying is I rather enjoyed Blair Witch, far more than I thought I was going to, and while I don’t regret not having seen this when it was on the big screen, I’m glad I got around to watching it eventually. Worth checking out.

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