“The Blair Witch Project” (1999), in my opinion, never needed a sequel because it was strong enough on its own. It truly is one of the scariest films I have ever seen. The atmosphere of the film still gives me chills on each viewing. “Blair Witch” (2016) came out of nowhere and immediately brought fear back into my core.
Adam Wingard is one of my favorite modern horror directors of the past ten years. He knows what it takes to direct a solid horror film and isn't interested in pumping out “garbage” horror films. What I find most interesting about this director is the fact that he stays true to what he enjoys and what his fans enjoy. He doesn’t “sell out” to ensure a films success. What I mean by that is, he seems to not allow a production company to fully take over a project and make it how they want instead of what he wants. Now there are some conflicts and choices that aren’t avoidable and have to be worked out between the two. He knows what makes a horror film a horror film, which is rare. From the music, cinematography, and a strong plot. His long time friend and go-to-writer, Simon Barrett, strategically crafts the stories around Wingard's skills and vice versa.
The “Blair Witch” was filmed in secrecy so it would take the world by storm, which he accomplished whether you liked the film or not. All the horror blogs were in a buzz when it was released that this would be the sequel we were all waiting for. I was certainly shocked that he was willing to take on such a classic film. Initially the film was called “The Woods;” I remember seeing a teaser thinking, “Wow, this reminds me of the Blair Witch.” I knew then, regardless of what it was, that Wingard and Barrett were working on it and I was planning on seeing it. Then they released that it would be a sequel to the original film, “The Blair Witch Project.”
Like the original, there are some interesting behind the scenes facts about this film that make it that much more impressive. Like the original, the budget on this film was extremely low (to the standards of today in cinema) with a modest 5 million dollar budget. 5 Million sounds like a lot but in modern day cinema, it’s extremely low especially since a large film company like Lionsgate backed this film.
There are minimal CGI effects used in the making of this movie. They only used CGI effects to remove some wires, give the effect of digital pixilation, and to distort some paths in the woods. Wingard used air horns to scare the actors to give genuine “jump scares," giving the viewers a true sense of fear. I love these facts about films because it shows how committed to the art of cinema the crew is.
James, brother of Heather Donahue, runs across a video on the Internet that he believes is footage of his sister’s experience with the Blair Witch. He and some close friends set out to discover what truly happened to his sister so he can finally make peace with it all. Lisa, a cute tech savvy individual, brings a lot of equipment so they can do this right. This includes 4 “ear cameras” which have GPS, a drone, and a high-end camera for wide shots/scenic shots. As James, Lisa, Peter and Ashley set out on their journey, they want to meet the couple, “Darknet666,” in person to interview them.
Burkittsville, Maryland hasn’t been the same since the original 3 went missing. The speculation of the woods is so strong that the villagers tend to just stay away, with good cause. Lane and Talia, “Darknet666,” are the typical bizarre young people who you would avoid normally. They agree to show James and his friends where they found the tape, if they bring them along. With hesitation, they agree because James is willing to do whatever he has to to set his mind at ease. Upon entering the woods, Lane and Talia briefly go over the myth of the Blair Witch and what comes along with entering the woods. Peter and James find it funny how serious the couple takes it but the feeling isn’t mutual. After a seemingly normal start of a trip, strange occurrences that no one can explain start to arise. The group quickly realizes that they are not alone, what are they to do? Is it a hoax or is the Blair Witch stalking their sanity and slowly exposing their weaknesses?
The similarities between the original and this sequel are there throughout but the new film brings new elements to the table. The fear was closely mimicked, which is something I truly appreciate. It gave me the feeling that there is still a chance of being stalked by The Blair Witch each time I enter the woods. If you enjoyed the original, there is a good chance you will enjoy this sequel.
The standout stars in this very minimal cast are, Callie Hernandez (Lisa) and Valorie Curry (Talia). These two women brought their “A” game. Both showed their range from normalcy to emotional breakdown. Wingard has been on the record for using strong female leads, breaking the silly barrier of women consistently being “damsels in distress.” These two women prove that breaking the barrier is excellent for the horror genre.
“Blair Witch” still gave me the creeps but not as much as the original. As stated before, for a film that didn’t need a sequel, it was a pretty solid sequel. “Blair Witch” scores a solid 7.5/10 in my book.