‘Blair Witch’ fancy remake skips scary stuff

by Tim English on September 16, 2016

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist DOWN]

The Blair Witch Project came out of nowhere in 1999 and made a gazillion dollars because everyone was like “what the hell was that?” Love it or hate it, it was genius, not only from a low-budget indie filmmaking standpoint, but it changed the ways movies are marketed today. Fast-forward to present day, 2016. The Internet is king and found-footage horror flicks are a dime a dozen. Perfect time for a reboot or sequel or whatever the hell this this is, right?

Ehhh — no.

Unfortunately, Blair Witch, directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett (and produced by a dozen other dudes, including the original’s creators) — is pretty much a roided-up remake of the original, except it’s not scary. Sure, it takes the sequel route — here we have James (brother of the original movie’s Heather) setting out into the woods in search of her after some recent footage turns up online, giving James hope his sister is still alive. Of course, he has a filmmaker friend who wants to use his search as the subject for her documentary film project. But make no mistake, originality does not exist in this dojo.

After that’s it’s pretty much a beat-by-beat remake, even though it tries to pretend it has some new twists that keep it from being just like it’s original — but don’t be fooled, kids, don’t be fooled! Where the original relied on subtly to get an audience reaction, Blair Witch pummels you with jump scare after jump scare, all telegraphed with noises — sounds of trees falling and grinding metal on concrete — hell, I couldn’t tell what was happening half the time — or even what the characters thought was happening.

The main thing about this chapter is the updated technology. Oh man, these idiots set out into the woods with a bunch of kick-ass equipment — Go Pros, drones, you name it, setting us up for a broader use of the found footage situation that wasn’t available back in the 90s. Do the filmmakers truly take advantage of it? Hell no. Instead we get a lot of indistinguishable POV footage from different devices, none of which is able to tease anything genuinely terrifying happening to any of these meat puppets.

And I swear there is some bizarre time-travel element. Sorry. Spoiler alert. But who cares, this movie blows — this won’t ruin your viewing. It may even help to know that going in. Nevermind, it won’t. None of it makes sense.

Blair Witch is less of a movie and more of an experience. It’s like one of those panic-room situations, horror-movie style, where you pay $40 to have a bunch of dudes scare the shit out of you — like a haunted house, but you’re out in the woods. Except it’s not scary. It’s just loud and annoying and after a while hard to figure out what the hell is happening.

You just want out — and your money back.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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