Did anyone know that there was a second Blair Witch movie? (No seriously…I had no idea). Before the screening for ‘Blair Witch’, which is the sequel of the first movie ‘The Blair Witch Project’, someone mentioned that this was the 3rd film in the franchise and my immediate reaction was “when the hell was the second one?” After doing some intense research (Wikipedia) I found out that there was a sequel to the first film that came out in 2000 called ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’. That film wasn’t nearly as successful as the original released a year earlier so apparently, a lot of other people forgot about it too.
Blair Witch begins with a couple of college students watching a YouTube video of a girl running in terror in an old house. James believes that the girl is his sister who went missing in the Black Hill Woods 22 years earlier. So James and a group of his friends decide to investigate the woods based on a tip from DarkWeb666, who sent him the video. James and his team actually try to be prepared for this mission by arming themselves with cameras and GPS trackers (of course, no one thinks to bring, I dunno…a weapon) but hey, they got a cool drone that runs on battery and can only go 100 feet in the air. This prep time will prove to be useless but I’ll save that for later. They run into DarkWeb666 and his girlfriend who says they can guide them through the woods while they search. A massive search party went into the woods years ago but no one found the house that was in the video shown. After one night in the woods, things immediately go wrong and our group quickly realize how screwed they are.
I guess we should talk about the Witch herself. I’ll answer the question for you; no you don’t see what she looks like. But I have to say being unfamiliar with the powers of the witch in the Blair Witch series, she is OP as hell. I mentioned earlier the group is actually pretty well prepared outside of not having a gun but even if they had one, it would have had about as much effect as them fighting an Avenger.
The rule is that the group has to sleep overnight in the woods in order for them to feel her wrath. So the next morning the group discovers that they slept into mid-afternoon. Turns out they are now in a dimension where the witch controls time, weather, and the environment. After being separated from the group, DarkWeb666 returns to reveal that they have been running in the darkness for days despite only being separated a few hours earlier. The Witch displays other powers such as altering reality, knocking a drone 100ft in the air, and killing the black guy first.
Blair Witch feels very much like a Paranormal Activity film that is set in the woods. Same idea, same first-person perspective, and same jump scares. The film is pretty much 99% jump scares as everything and everyone attacks them from off-screen. Seems like the only way anyone can announce themselves is to jump directly in front of them even when they are within speaking distance. The scares are effective but predictable. Most of them are telegraphed a mile away so it just leaves you waiting for the next jump to happen. For a bunch of kids who prepared not to be like every other group of idiots in a horror film, they sure make the same dumb mistakes and get pegged off like every other group of idiots in a horror film.
Blair Witch tries to live off the same type of social media campaign as the first film but at the end of the day, it’s simply a very cheap effort at a cash grab. They don’t really try anything new except for the update in technology which turns out to be worthless anyway as we know no one is surviving. Perhaps if this was a different year, I could give this movie credit for being a decent soft reboot of the original. But in a year where horror has had a pretty good run of quality films, I can’t help but feel that Blair Witch is just a rehash of tropes we’ve seen done better. Ultimately Blair Witch is a decent found footage horror film but it comes at a time where the genre needs a rest, not a reboot.