Commentary by Larissa Ciafullo.
For a film kept under secret for so long, it’s the most predictable and cliche horror movie ever made. The sequel to the 1999 independent horror film “The Blair Witch Project” recently came to theaters. “Blair Witch” takes place about 20 years after the events of the first film.
In “Blair Witch Project” the original made in 1999, Heather and her two friends Josh and Mike journey to the the Black Hills woods to shoot a film documentary about the local legend, the Blair Witch. As you can guess, all meet their tragic end after spending several days in the woods being stalked by the witch.
In the new movie, the main character James is the little brother of Heather, and is desperate to find answers about his sister’s disappearance. James goes to the woods where his sister was last seen and investigates a local man who has found recovered footage of a woman running around an abandoned house similar to the one his sister was in when she disappeared.
His friends Peter and Ashley plus film student Lisa who is shooting a documentary about their findings (much like Heather was doing when she disappeared). The group is taken by the Blair Witch in a horrific way one by one. with the black guy being first(sigh).
While this movie is scary, it is nothing compared to the first film. For most of the time you don’t even understand what’s going on, and all you see is shaky shots of people running from loud noises in the woods.
It was really confusing at times, before one of the main characters died, their flashlight went dead, so while they are being attacked all you see is a dark screen while the character is screaming and running through the woods but you don’t know what exactly they are running from. And that’s really what all the deaths are like. You don’t know what is happening so you can’t be scared or impacted the way you are when you see a person being killed in full light. At another point, there’s this scene where it’s really dramatic and then there’s a noise that you don’t know where it came from and the two characters just start screaming and and can’t see what they’re so scared of because it was dark. I would have liked this movie better if they had gotten better lighting or given the characters a few more batteries in their flashlights.
One thing that I did like about this movie was unlike the original that the “witch” could have easily been an average person messing with them. In the new movie it is clear that it was a supernatural force, as the witch is able to physically manipulate the woods themselves. She can control the layout of the woods to create a maze like area to insure her victims can not escape or even keeping the woods in a constant state of darkness making it harder for the group .
On Rotten Tomatoes the movie currently has a 38% rating. One critic Vicky Roach says in her review “Not so much a remake or a reboot as a fairly uninspired remix,” compared to the first film. Another reviewer James Kendrick says “…while moments work and Wingard wrings a number of genuine scares out of the material, it ultimately feels so familiar that it’s hard to see the point.”