This reboot via sequel of the 1999 horror classic tosses out a decent amount of solid scares and some interesting plot devices, but fails to really run with the concepts that could have made it successful in its own right.
Budding documentarian Lisa (Callie Hernandez) and her friends Ashley (Corbin Reid), James (James Allen McCune) and Peter (Brandon Scott) set off to explore the Black Hills Forest surrounding the town of Burkittsville, Maryland as they follow a lead that might help explain the disappearance of James’s older sister, Heather (one of the protagonists from the first film).
The friends collect a rather impressive collection of hand-held, head-mounted, and remote-controlled cameras, and head off to the small town where they meet local enthusiasts, Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry), who found the tape that inspired the trip. Despite their reservations, the group allow the two locals to come along on the trip into the woods.
From there, things start to deteriorate pretty quickly from the moment they step foot in the woods, leading to lots of screaming, tears, and the shaky-cam footage that The Blair Witch Project made famous.
The found footage genre of horror films is the bread and butter of the writer/director duo of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard’s, both of whom were part of the first two V/H/S films, and they work together to great effect here. The cast, particularly Valorie Curry’s Talia, are incredibly solid and in many cases actually respond to the horrific things they encounter in the way normal people would actually react.
The problem, is that Barrett and Wingard set up a whole host of really interesting side-concepts surrounding some of the characters, and the Blair Witch legend, and then fail to expand on any of them. Rather, they ultimately fall back on the “run and scream with the camera pointed up my nose” format that has become so common in the genre.
Where Blair Witch is most successful, is when it adheres to the idea that you don’t have to show the audience the scary thing, you just have to build up the tension and provide situations for an audience to scare themselves. More often than not, an audience is going to come up with something more horrifying than you could show so let them do the work – and for the most part, Blair Witch uses this concept well.
Blair Witch is engaging while you’re watching it, and that’s great, but it doesn’t stick with you the way its predecessor did.
Rated: R for language, terror, and some disturbing images
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
In Theaters: September 16th, 2016 (USA)
Runtime: 1h 29min