Review: ‘Blair Witch’ Is A Mainstream Remake Of The Original
The original “The Blair Witch Project” is many things.
The original was (and may still be) the most profitable film in history. It cost only a couple thousand dollars to make, but ended up making MILLIONS at the box office. It pioneered viral marketing on the internet and brought the found footage genre to the public. They of course attempted a sequel which full disclosure I have not seen, but I know it did terribly when released and killed the franchise for awhile. Now a new sequel, “Blair Witch” seeks to restart things. Did it succeed? Let’s see.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 2.5
The plot is about following a team making a documentary led by the younger brother of Heather from the original “Blair Witch Project.” He finds new tapes that may lead to them finding the house from the end and even what may be left of Heather and her crew. To do this, they join up with the two locals that claim to have found the new tapes. This was a potentially cool idea to have two factions having to deal with each other and let the distrust slowly build. However, they split up fairly early and the film has little to do with this concept. So the rest of the film is the crew wandering through the woods and slowly getting picked off. It’s basically a remake of the first film just done in a more mainstream style which misses the point of what made the original so enjoyable to most of its fans.
This is not a badly made film, I’ll give it that. Although that may be the problem. “The Blair Witch Project” felt very real. In regards to the acting, there was no real script. The filmmakers told them a basic outline of the scene and just let them stay in character the whole time. The original did feel real while this feels like a regular movie that just happens to be filmed in a found footage style. The actors are all fine and I believe their acting, but it doesn’t quite feel like I’m watching in on real conversations. The same goes for the cinematography. Again to reference the first film, the actors playing the filmmakers really were the ones behind the cameras and were filming it. The equipment was basic and the actors really were novices with them (it’s why the opening is out of focus). In this new film at times it almost seems like a regular film in terms of picture quality. The only thing that tells you it isn’t is the shakiness of the camera and the visual compositions. I realize that has to do with the fact that consumer grade equipment is extremely good now versus how it was during the late 90s, but it can’t help but take away from the effect they’re going for. All films need suspension of disbelief and for a found footage film I need to be able to let myself forget that this is fake more so than a normal movie. I found that I never really could do that in this film. Plus they couldn’t even get the woods to look anything like the original. I mean how hard is that?!
Entertainment Value – 2
This film did not scare me. Towards the end of the film in the final chase I did start to get a little interested, but only so much. I read a quote from the director that was something to the effect of, “The original film was about getting lost in the woods, this film is about being chased by something.” I can sort of understand where he’s coming from with that, but it wasn’t terribly frightening. This wasn’t an “Aliens” to “Alien” sort of situation. Mainly because it’s trying so hard to be so similar to the first film that it causes this film to never truly fully commit to this more thrilling style. However, as a horror all it ultimately comes down to is did it scare you? For me it’s quite rare for a horror film to really scare me. One reason is that many modern horror films use way too many jump scares. They’re cheap and this film uses them so much that it becomes more annoying than anything. A good example of how out of touch this film is with creating fear is the one most viewers will probably be talking about.
Click to reveal the spoiler
A character gets cut on her leg during a chase in the woods and when she goes to inspect it she has to pull something out of her leg as puss comes oozing out in a close up.
To quote James Cameron, “You don’t create fear with gore, you create disgust which is a completely different emotion.” Yes I and the whole theatre squirmed a bit in our seats, but that wasn’t an example of fear, it was because we were seeing something gross and it’s not like the grossness added to the mood or atmosphere. It was the horror equivalent to a cut away joke in an episode of “Family Guy.”
I’ll tell you the one scene that did shock me which is also in the trailer. When the characters awaken to find their campsite full of stickman dolls one character notices one has some of her hair attached to it. Another character in anger takes it and breaks it in half which instantly causes the other person’s back to snap like the doll. Also, as far a sequels go you need to have seen the first film to even theoretically get into this one. “The Blair Witch Project” opens with a great opening of townspeople talking about the local legends of the Blair witch so the audience can all be on the same page moving forward. This film gives you the cliff-notes version in a few conversations, but if you want any of that mood you got from the original then you’ll have to add it in your own head. The best way I know how to describe this sequel is that it feels like it was made by the kind of people who complain about the first film being too boring.
Rewatchability – 1
I can’t say I ever plan to watch this again and will do my best to avoid it. When I do inevitably re-watch “The Blair Witch Project,” I won’t feel the need to even keep this film in my head or try to connect the dots of the two stories.
- Entertainment Value
This new “Blair Witch” movie is basically a mainstream remake of the first film with just a few references to even make it a sequel. By mainstream I mean bland, predictable, disposable characters and jump scares galore. It really does feel like a betrayal to actually see the Blair Witch herself onscreen. No real additions to the formula, a few interesting ideas that could have been interesting, but none actually used. Still it mostly is a slick, well-produced film so I think that's what barely keeps it from being offensively bad. I give it 2 stars out of 5.
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