It’s almost and unwritten rule in Hollywood that when a sequel to a popular film is made, it needs to be bigger and badder. Look at any Michael Bay sequel for proof of that, there is always bigger robots and even bigger explosions. Well apparently that rule applies to Indie horror films of the late 90’s too.
“Blair Witch” is a sequel to the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project” that followed three film students who venture into the woods searching for the urban legend that is the witch of Blair. There was a sequel “Book of Shadows” about a year later that was pretty forgettable. This film is a more direct sequel as it follows the sibling of Heather Donahue from the first film, her brother James (James Allen McCune) and a few of his friends who journey in search of his missing sister in the mysterious woods.
What follows is a beat for beat retread of the original 1999 film, but what’s worse is that the cat is already out of the bag, you can’t surprise people or make them believe that this could be real found footage when it was done much better the first time around in the early days of the internet. Plus the Blair Witch has gone from supernatural force, or vengeful spirit into a full blown member of The X-Men. She can take out drones, screw with GPS, make people sleep till the late afternoon, knock down whole trees, and imitate any sound or voice. It even fails to be scary pretty much when you think its supposed to. The jump-scares are lame, the main guy James recites ridiculously cliche dialogue in the flattest of ways, and again, not scary.
Worst of all it is the most jarring piece of film I have ever seen. All found footage have that shaky cam feel, however here, there are six people, all with cameras, shaking more than all the Jason Bourne films put together. They also cut from person to person to person to person so quickly it becomes nauseating. The biggest surprise of all is I like everything I have seen so far from director Adam Wingard. From his “V/H/S” and “ABCs of Death” shorts to his two features, the brilliantly original “You’re Next” (2011) to the great edgy throwback “The Guest” (2014). But here with collaborator/writer Simon Barrett, they turn in a mediocre sequel that feels more like a remake. Though I can’t imagine this scaring anyone, even if they never saw the first “Blair Witch”.
There is a half-hearted attempt to add to the mythology of the story, but it falls flat as several good horror movie rules are broken in order to try and generate scares. The only surprise in the whole film is ruined in the trailer, and this is proof of another Hollywood rule, most sequels suck. They can’t be salvaged or saved, not even by an all powerful witch such as this.
–Robert L. Castillo