Leave the Forest Alone: A Blair Witch Review

Hello again, Collective lovelies. I feel like it has been forever since we’ve spoken! Between a new school, a new job, and basically a new life, I’ve been a little disoriented. But I have returned, just like the Blair Witch. For those of you don’t know, a sequel, titled Blair Witch, to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project was released on September 16th. Being as that my birthday was the 17th, all I asked for was a beer and to go see Blair Witch. Well, I got my wish.

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The original Blair Witch Project is the story of three students who venture into the Black Hills Forest to film a documentary surrounding the legend of the Blair Witch. It doesn’t exactly go well for them, and the film is made up of their found footage. The sequel, Blair Witch, follows the same format. James is the brother of Heather, one of the original students to disappear, who gathers three friends to camp in the Black Hills Forest with him in order to hopefully find out what happened to his sister. Or even better, find his sister. It’s a long shot, but his friends join him in the search. They are also joined later on by Lane and Talia, who found Heather’s found footage in the forest and have been interested in the stories of the Blair Witch for many years. You would think doubling the cast, and upgrading the camera equipment would make for a better film, but the psychological terror that gripped us in the first film is severely lacking in this big-budget sequel.

Let’s start at the question on everyone’s mind; what was the point in making a Blair Witch Project sequel? The original left such a dent in the history of horror films, and the found-footage style has been mimicked many, many times since then. The one thing Blair Witch has to offer over the 1999 original is an update in camera equipment. Whereas the first one was shot on a single camera, this time around the documentarians had access to earpiece cameras, a drone, and a camera which was attached to a tree, in addition to the handheld DSLR used by Lisa. This should have been an asset, but it just made it messy. The drone didn’t add anything special besides the fact that they used it to discover that the road had disappeared. The tree camera captured nothing but dialogue between two characters. It was missed opportunity after missed opportunity, and if you are creating a sequel to an iconic horror film like this, there is no room for missed opportunities. However, the tech aspect of the film was not all bad. The sound design and the score was incredible and created tension throughout the entire film. Three cheers for great audio!

In addition in the lack of camera creativity, was the lack of character development. I can find it very hard to believe that James has studied Heather’s footage that thoroughly, and was still naive enough to return to the site of her disappearance. Wanting answers is understandable, but knowingly repeating exactly what got your sister killed is not the way to get those answers. What is worse is how his friends just went along with it, and there was never any tension in the group on what should or shouldn’t be done in each situation. That was part of what made the first film so great, was seeing the characters psychological spiral as they became more and more familiar with the Blair Witch. They went through a slew of different emotions, where the new cast went from “Blair Witch is a lie” to “holy sh** we are going to die and the Blair Witch is real” in what seemed like minutes. And did James’ parents know he was going back into the Black Hills Forest? Don’t you think they would have stopped him? They can’t be too thrilled with that forest to begin with.

I commend director, Adam Wingard, and writer, Simon Barrett, for taking on the challenge of Blair Witch, because it is a big movie to try and reinvent. I was really rooting for this film, and I wanted to see it do amazing things. Especially considering they worked on it for roughly two years under the name The Woods and then revealed the Blair Witch title at San Diego Comic Con this past July. They even used a 360 video game to promote the film. But despite all the marketing wins, Blair Witch fell short when it should have been a game-changer. But, who knows? Maybe in 17 years we can get another remake.


About the Author: Katie is a makeup artist/blogger from the Great White North (AKA, good ol’ Canada). She spends her time creating YouTube videos, writing about anything that crosses her mind, and living vicariously through episodes How I Met Your Mother. You can check out her videos here. Or follow Katie on Twitter and at her Blog.

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