REVIEW: ‘Blair Witch’ Has A Few Thrills, But Not As Memorable As Its 90s Counterpart

This true sequel to the 1999 found footage picture brings audiences back to a familiar place, and that’s not just in reference to the location. On top of the movie’s setting, this edition also borrows heavily from the first film’s formula.

Ignoring the 2000 film “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2,” this flick opts to just be a direct sequel to the original and follows the character James. James is the brother of Heather Donahue, who was one of the people who went “missing” in the original picture. Since her disappearance in rural Maryland, James has been obsessed with trying to discover her whereabouts and finds a clue by way of an internet video.

In response, James and a group of his friends go out into the same woods that the previous crew ventured into in an attempt to pick up more pieces of the puzzle. However, once they enter, eerie things start happening to the protagonists.

As stated in the first paragraph, “Blair Witch” covers a lot of the same territory that the original film did, without offering too much more. If not for the one character’s connection to the previous group from the first film, this could have easily been viewed as a remake rather than a direct sequel.

The story, for example, goes beat by beat with the familiar subject matter, the terrain gets more frightening, the characters get lost and they start disappearing. There’s nothing here that really surprises, besides some typical jump scares, and it leaves the movie feeling like a bit of a retread.

The script doesn’t offer much, either. Much of the dialogue boils down to arguments of where to go and what to do next, rather than having anything deeper. While horror flicks are usually not expected to have significant writing, the film could have made some of the characters a bit more developed.

In a way, these two points of contention lead to a larger one, which is the movie as a whole feeling dated. The film does much of the same things as the 1999 picture, which was fine for that year, but the found footage genre has evolved. After seeing films like “Cloverfield,” “Chronicle” and even last year’s “The Visit,” “Blair Witch” just comes off as a bit bland.

That’s not to say there’s nothing worth watching here. In all fairness, “Blair Witch 2016” does show off some updated camera gear, such as small GoPro cameras. This allows for more angles and reactions to give a more immersive viewing experience.

The picture also has its share of creepy moments, from the never ending trees to the eventual house that’s discovered. There’s certainly a spooky atmosphere that’s played up and it can give some chills.

Overall, “Blair Witch” wasn’t all that memorable and won’t have the ‘lightning in a bottle’ effect that the previous flick had. There are enough thrills to catch this on home video/streaming, but it’s too much of a retread to run out to the theater and see it. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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