Movie review of “Blair Witch”: This latest incarnation recycles all the elements of 1999’s “Blair Witch Project” and brings nothing new to the party. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
Well, they can’t say they weren’t warned.
The characters in “Blair Witch” go traipsing into the spooky old woods where the cast of 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” met their unspecified but presumably horrible fates. They do this armed with the full awareness of those unpleasant events thanks to the found footage chronicling the first group’s doomed adventuring.
It’s that footage that prompts James (James Allen McCune), the leader of the latest band of (mis)adventurers, to poke around in the haunted forest. He’s the younger brother of Heather, the leader of the vanished first group, and he wants to solve the mystery of her disappearance to find — you guessed it — closure.
Movie Review ★★
‘Blair Witch,’ with James Allen McCune, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Callie Hernandez. Directed by Adam Wingard, from a screenplay by Simon Barrett. 89 minutes. Rated R for language, terror and some disturbing images. Several theaters.
This will not end well.
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This does not end well.
At the end there will be lots of panicked running through night-shrouded tangled woods, much heavy breathing, terrified screaming and ever so many extreme close-ups of frightened young faces reflecting the too-late realization that this whole expedition was a very bad idea.
Although there was a sequel to 1999’s “Blair Witch Project” — 2000’s “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” — this latest incarnation, directed by Adam Wingard (“V/H/S”), is the true follow-up. The technology is up-to-the-minute, with the new group equipped with head-mounted minicams and a drone in place of the handheld camcorder used in the first one, but otherwise it’s the same old, same old. Ominous noises in the dark caused by unseen ghoulies are heard. Strange stick figures adorn the trees surrounding the young folks’ campsite. The same decayed haunted house in which the climax of the first “Witch” played out is the scene of the climax once again.
The original “Blair Witch Project,” filmed on a shoestring and a huge hit at the box office, essentially kicked the found-footage horror genre into high gear. Now, 17 years later, the freshness has long since worn off, thanks to the likes of the “Cloverfield” and the “Paranormal Activity” franchises.
The characters are so thinly sketched that the audience feels little emotional investment in them, and the handheld (or rather head-mounted) cameras produce the same jittery visuals that many viewers found so off-putting in the original. By the end, your inner ear will be mewling for mercy.
At a relatively compact 89 minutes, the picture still feels about 20 minutes too long thanks to all the repetition of familiar elements.
Second verse, same as the first. And that isn’t an improvement.