Review: Blair Witch (Comic Con 2016)
PLOT: While searching for a missing relative, a group of college students decide to venture into the woods, a place where three young documentary filmmakers disappeared long ago.
REVIEW: Sometimes a movie carries with it such a deep secrecy that if feels a shame to reveal too much. That is certainly the case of a little movie formally titled THE WOODS. In fact, if you are able to avoid the buzz and the big reveal that will surely be trending on social media, you are all the better for it. If you haven’t heard what it’s all about and you’d like to remain open… good luck. However, aside from a brief description below, I will try my damnedest not to reveal more than necessary. The problem here is that the biggest secret is simply what the film happens to be. So if you’d rather be in the dark, you may want to skip this review, but there is a likely chance that you will see it somewhere else. Once people start talking about this film after tonights screening at Comic Con, you’ll likely be very aware of what horrors wait. And remember that bit about it formally being titled THE WOODS? Hell, even the new title will certainly reveal a ton.
Here we go. BLAIR WITCH tells the story of a group of college students who venture out into familiar territory searching for one young man’s missing sister. They bring with them video cameras to record the events, yet this time they are a little more high tech thanks to the inclusion of drones. Have you figured it out yet? The talented filmmaking duo of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are finally giving us a proper sequel to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. From the very first sequence, you know exactly what film you are watching. And if you are a fan like me, you are in for one edge of your seat horror treat. Hell, this flick is likely to connect with those who didn’t appreciate the frighteningly successful original film. BLAIR WITCH is chilling and intense. It is a truly terrifying cinematic experience.
What is especially impressive about this sequel is how true Wingard and Barrett stay to the original, yet they take it much further than the first film. Technology has helped modernize this lost in the woods fright fest. Instead of trying to make a similar feature and having yet another group of kids making a documentary, there is a personal reason for documenting all the horror, and it works. And when the scares kick in - which they do a little earlier this time - it’s safe to say if you didn’t feel you saw enough with the original, you should be pleasantly surprised. Unlike the first, there are a few brutal moments that are genuinely shocking. One scene involving a girl and a familiar stick figure is absolutely disturbing. I won’t give it away here, but it’s one hell of a shocking bit that had me wincing in pain.
Unlike Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT and THE GUEST, BLAIR WITCH is a little more straight forward in terms of horror. This isn’t a genre mash-up, this is a sequel that connects to the first film. Wingard and Barrett manage to build on the first something that is more likely to scare a modern audience. He has made it feel close to the original with more of an edge. There is a tension that begins early and it never lets go. There are more visual shocks here than the first time around. BLAIR WITCH delves into some horrifying images, and it all works. However, there is definitely a gruesome streak with some seriously frightful scares.
Since we are fully aware what happened the last time a group of young people ventured out into the woods, there is no point in trying to convince people this really happened again. We’ve been there and done that. So when it comes to casting, it wasn’t necessary to bring in complete unknowns. The cast, including Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez, James Allen McCune, Brandon Scott and Wes Robinson, all have a few credits to their name. Corbin Reid is the one with the least amount of experience. Yet they all do a fine job within the confines of this story. As a fan of horror films, it is fun to see actors that don’t have a huge recognizability factor because the bigger the star, the better chance they’ll make it out alive. Even with a few familiar faces, BLAIR WITCH was smart enough to avoid casting bigger names.
As a fan of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, it’s thrilling to finally see a worthy follow-up. While BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 had a few intriguing ideas, it just didn’t work as a sequel. BLAIR WITCH however manages to bring a fresh approach and still be a true sequel. Adam Wingard updates this supernatural tale of terror without sacrificing what made the first film work. If you didn’t think the Maryland woods could still be scary, think again. BLAIR WITCH is the sequel fans have been waiting for and then some. Wingard and Barrett continue to prove they have an uncanny ability to bring something fresh to a familiar nightmare. This is yet another trip to the woods worth taking.
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