‘There’s something out there…’
Whether you enjoyed the film or not, there is no doubting that Blair Witch Project is one of the most influential movies ever made. The marketing campaign went viral before ‘going viral’ was even a thing. The low budget production revolutionized how Hollywood approached horror films and it is also popularized an entire horror sub genre with Found Footage.
The Pixies are often said to have invented the Loud Quiet Loud song writing style where noisey, aggressive verses give way to a more measured chorus or vice versa. Blair Witch Project birthed a similar creation in horror wherein the tension is built in the daytime before everything goes nuts in the darkness – a cinematic technique that is still very much in vogue more than 15 years on.
Despite its status as an influential trailblazer, BWP was actually a rejection of technology. The internet was just taking off at the dawn of the millennium and special effects were being embraced more than ever before but instead the film makers used the most basic equipment available to them and spawned a classic.
Joint directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez crafted a film with unheard of, normal looking, actors, a tiny budget, a unique filming style and a simple story and made it into one of the biggest horror films ever. All of this begs the question, why on Earth would anyone even bother taking on a sequel?
This long awaited follow up fails to offer a convincing answer to that question.
Experienced horror director Adam Wingard was a predictable and safe choice as director and he fails to justify the existence of Blair Witch on anything other than a financial level. Obviously, when taking on such a daunting project, nobody wanted Wingard to just rehash the original but nor should he have removed everything that made it so good. We have a plot that is too on the nose and direct to be effective, characters who look and act like they have wandered straight off a catwalk and a clear focus on every modern day gadget and technology being fully utilized. What follows is a messy, forgettable and worst of all boring sequel.
The first problem is I have had more frightening bowel movements than Blair Witch. The jumpy moments are not just predictable, they are fucking ridiculous. If someone is holding a camera trained on the woods, you don’t just run up to them and scream in their face. This is not the only questionable decision made by the characters as they are constantly gleefully tearing off into the darkness by themselves at every given opportunity.
The second big problem is the decision to remove the Blair Witch herself from the dark corners of our imagination and bring her gangly frame to the screen. The power of suggestion is what made BWP so damn effective. That probing, subtle horror is replaced by moments of screaming lunacy that are either laughable or pinched wholesale from better movies. The metaphysical side of the story would have been interesting had it not already been done ten times more effectively on Grave Encounters. The folk horror element would be creepy if it improved on the original and the back story is nothing on the twisted fable that lies beneath The Witch – a far superior witch movie.
Blair Witch is, in short, a shitty, cynical movie that only exists to make money. There is absolutely zero artistic merit to this messy, dull and repetitive nonsense. Somehow, Adam Wingard has managed to make a movie as bad as the much maligned Blair Witch sequel Book of Shadows.