Blair Witch (2016) Review

Author: Laura Cosheril

Before we start, I need to get this out there – I was (and still am) a massive fan of the 1999 “The Blair Witch Project”. Back in the day when I first laid eyes upon it a few years after its release I was a wee 8 year old, and I couldn’t sleep for a week… Literally. Now as a 20-something year old I look back and can recognise the importance and the sheer genius of it, it was (to me at least) the pioneer film of the “found footage” genre and lead the way for a lot of brilliant films. Let’s not get into the 2000 sequel “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2”, while a tolerable film, it didn’t do the franchise any justice at all.

Now the history lesson is out of the way, “Blair Witch” is a 2016 release by Director Adam Wingard (The mastermind behind the VHS franchise). The film revolves around James (James McCune) and his three friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Peter (Brandon Scott). If you watched the first film in the franchise you’ll remember Heather. In this movie (based some 20 years after the original movie), James is Heather’s brother and is obsessed with finding her. He finds some footage on the internet that solidifies in his mind the fact that his sister is still alive and hiding somewhere in The Black Hills Forest. James enlists his three friends to follow in his sisters footsteps and film their journey through the infamous forest trying to find his sister. There is a little hesitation from Lisa (clever fucking girl) but overall there seems to be no issue with this plan.

While on the way to the Forest, they meet up with Lane (Wes Robinson) and his girlfriend Talia (Valorie Curry) who were the ones who posted the internet video that started this suicide mission. Lane and Talia refuse to cooperate unless they are allowed to tag along. So, with that, off the six of them go into the Forest.

This is where the film starts to pick up, the first 20 minutes of the movie feels a bit like you’re watching a vlog, which is great that it portrays so naturally, it’s not why I threw on this movie. The movie takes a dark turn very quickly (I mean literally as well as psychologically). There are tensions brewing between Peter and Lane. Horror movies to the brain are (deep down) almost unbelievable, you watch them and you think “that will never happen to me”, this is where the importance of character tension comes in, it brings an element of realism to a far fetched plot. This tension really sets the tone for the entire movie, you just know shit is going to go downhill fast.

The cast of this movie are not exactly well known, a few small parts here and there but nothing big. When you take on a project as iconic as The Blair Witch franchise, you need to be one hell of an actor (ode to Heather Donahue’s final scenes in 1999). My favourite performance comes from Callie Hernandez, she took her part and absolutely ran with it. At the beginning, she’s laughing, smiling and by the end she’s covered in mud and a broken shell of a woman and in between she’s a terrified mess; all of these she plays oustandingly and truly shows her versatility as an actress.

Now, the most important question of all; is it scary? My one answer is – yes, it fucking is. Found Footage movies have always had a special place in my heart, so the reason I threw this on was purely for a bit of nostalgia, I didn’t think the past would repeat itself and I would be reverted back to the little 8 year old I mentioned earlier. The film is almost completely set in darkness, the limited camera view make things a hell of a lot creepier than any other and the swaying and general positions of the camera is so realistic that it will give you vertigo alone. I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, I felt like I was in it – it was terrifying.

Blair Witch is an outstanding movie, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations but I was wrong. This film has everything that you need for a horror evening. No matter whether or not you enjoyed the first 1999 classic, watch this movie, you will not be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5/5

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