It was the summer of 1999 and I walked into the theater to watch a movie that, I was sure was fiction, though for a while beforehand No one was sure. It was the Blair Witch Project and I sat down with a girlfriend at the time to watch the film that would reinvent the found footage genre. The movie was pieced together from an unfinished documentary; it was raw, shaky, and cleverly done. It was also nauseating. People at the time were not used to that kind of camera movement and some people complained of motion sickness.
Fast forward seventeen years later and the new film Blair Witch has been released and this is, finally, the sequel we should have had.
The story is hardly original; it follows the same direction as The Blair Witch Project. It is still a found footage film and it follows several college age kids as they go roaming through the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, home to the infamous Blair Witch. This time we follow James Donahue, brother of the missing Heather from the original film. He is set to go out and find his sister. James is accompanied by his friends, Peter Jones, Ashley Bennett, and Lisa Arlington a film student keen on recording the expedition as part of her Documentary class. The group meets up with locals Lane and Talia, who had uploaded a video of the area that had caught James attention. Together they all go into the Black Hills woods to search for the house that police say isn’t there. The plot soon unfolds like the original ending inside the lost cabin.
While the plot isn’t original there are elements that re fresh. The film takes the time to explain some of the origins of the witch, and how the woods are cursed. Also with update in the times there is an update in the technology. The ear piece cameras and the use of a drone are fun and practical. However there was a bunch of jump scares and several for me felt flat and were unnecessary, but I feel that was about 90% of all jump scares anyway.
With all that said, the film is a great way to do a soft reboot of the franchise. This was a sequel that will hopefully make way for more films that further explore the legend of the Blair Witch. Hopefully, however, they don’t go the route of the original sequel that was universally panned by both fans and critics.
If you were a fan of the original this will be the sequel you’ve been waiting for. If you thought that the found footage films were a curse on the horror genre for nearly a decade then you may want to avoid this trip Black Hills.